Skip to main content

Full text of "National Historic Trails Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide: Along the Snake River Plan Through Idaho"

See other formats

I 29.9/2:H 62/9 

National Trails System 

National Park Service 

U.S. Department of the Interior 

Clemson Universi 

3 1604 018 859 282 

National Historic Trails 

Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

Along the Snake River Plain Through 


"Three Island Crossing" by William 
^^^^ry Jackson 

.. ^"i^l 


JAN 7 ^008 


• ^'^"--'i palls'" on the Snake River. Courtesy of Library of Congress. 

^^ 1 i. 

.;. I.'. 




The Tangle of Trails Through Idaho 

Prepared by 

National Park Service 

National Trails System — Intermountain Region 

324 South State Street, Suite 200 

Salt Lake City, Utah 84111 

Telephone: 801-J41-1012 





i^muo DOcyyEtm b o 


JAN 7 2009 

October 2008 


Introduction •••••••••••• • • i 















Credits: 82 

Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 



Many of the pioneer trails and other historic 

Auto Tour 

routes that are important in our nation's 
past have been designated by Congress as National 
Historic Trails. While most of the old roads and 
routes still in existance are not open to motorized 
traffic, people can drive along modern highways 
that closely parallel the original trails. Those 
modern roads are designated as Auto Tour Routes, and they are 
marked with highway signs and trail logos to help today's travelers 
follow the trails used by the pioneers who helped to open the 
American West. 

This interpretive publication guides visitors along the Auto Tour 
Routes for the Oregon and California National Historic Trails 
across Idaho. Site-by-site driving directions are included, and an 
overview map is located inside the back cover. To make the tour 
more meaningful, this guide also provides a historical overview of 
the two trails, shares the thoughts and experiences of emigrants who 
followed these routes, and discusses how the westward expansion 
impacted native peoples of Idaho. 

Individual Auto Tour Route interpretive guides such as this one are in 
preparation for each state through which the trails pass. In addition, 
individual National Park Service brochures for the Oregon and 
California National Historic Trails are available at many trail-related 
venues, and also can be requested from the National Trails System 
administrative office at 324 South State Street, Suite 200, Salt Lake 
City, Utah 84111. Each brochure includes a map of the entire trail 
and an overview of trail history. Additional information about each 
trail also can be found on individual trail web sites. Links are listed 
on the "For More Information" page of this guide. 

Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


As covered-wagon emigrants crossed today's Idaho, they found 
the romance of the road wearing as thin as the soles of their trail- 
torn shoes. 

"Freighters Grub Pile, " by William 
Henry Jackson. Courtesy of Library of 

The pioneers' initial energy 
and excitement curdled into 
fatigue and crankiness after 
three or more months on the 
road. Nightly fireside dances 
got left behind back down the 
trail, next to Grandpa's clock. 
Mother's good china, and 
heaps of souring bacon. High- 
jinks and horse races grew 
rare, quarrels more frequent. 
Journal-keepers, when they 
mustered the energy to write at all, 
generally jotted terse complaints 
about fellow travelers, Indians, heat, 
exhaustion, dust, mosquitoes, aches and pains, and the "stink" of the 
never-ending sagebrush. 

It seems the nearer we approach Oregon the worse roads we 
have, and a worse more rough looking country. 
— Amelia Hadley, 1851 Oregon emigration 

Felt today like giving up in despair, the intolerable heat and dust, 
together with fatigue makes me almost sick at heart. 
— Esther Belle Hanna, 1852 California emigration 

[Men] are by turns, or all together, cross, peevish, sullen, 
boisterous, giddy, profane, dirty, vulgar, ragged, mustachioed, 
bewhiskered, idle, petulant, quarrelsome, unfaithful, disobedient, 
refractory, careless, contrary, stubborn, hungry and without the 
fear of God and hardly of man before their eyes. 

— Israel Shipman Pelton Lord, 1849 California gold rush 

Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


Most emigrants reached this part of the overland trail in late July or 
August, when the heat of the day presses down like a heavy quilt, 
burdening the body and muddying the mind. Some of the strongest 
oxen, too, were weakening and failing, having faithfully pulled 
heavy wagons nearly 1,300 miles over mountains and plains. But 
even as energy and enthusiasm ebbed, travelers knew that they were 
beginning the most difficult part of their overland journey. They were 
entering the heart of the Desert West: a land of volcanic barrens, 
sagebrush steppe, salt- crisped deserts, and mountain ranges like 
rows of teeth. Idaho's part of the Desert West is known as the Snake 



. ♦ " '. a« 


Southern Route of the Oregon Trail near Murphy, Idaho. 

Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


200 KM 

The Snake River Plain (outlined in red) 
provided a relatively flat surface for wagon 
travel. Base map is courtesy of Idaho State 
University Department of Geology. 

The Oregon Trail, also 
used in part by travelers 
bound for California, 
follows the sweep of the 
Snake River Plain across 
Idaho. Much of this plain is 
irrigated farmland now, but 
it was no bountiful prairie in 
covered wagon days. Parts 
are basalt-encrusted barrens 
with sharp, broken rock 
that chewed up hooves and 
feet. Other parts are covered 
with volcanic ash or ancient 
lake sediments, easily kicked 
into the air by passing wheels 
and hooves. Instead of lush 
grass for hungry livestock, this land then bristled with gray-green 
sagebrush that snatched at wagon wheels and tore the legs of oxen. 
The plain is stingy with water, too. It thirstily sucks up runoff, pulls 
rivers underground into desert "sinks" (that's how Idaho's Big and 
Little Lost Rivers became lost), and then spits the water directly into 
the Snake River, miles away. 

And that unfriendly river has cut itself deeply into the plain, where it 
flows aloof and armored by high walls of black basalt. For miles along 
the Snake River, thirsty people and livestock could only look down 
from high on the rim rock to the taunting water hundreds of feet 
below. The Snake was no tame workhorse either, no docile carrier of 
people and freight. Today it has been gentled by irrigation and dams, 
but 150 years ago this was a wild bronco of a stream, with rapids, 
falls, and cascades that bucked off all manner of boats. Such was its 
violence that French-Canadian trappers called it La maudite riviere 
enragee — "the accursed mad river." 

Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


This is one of the most singular rivers in the world being for miles 
enclosed by a perpendicular ledge of rocks & the thirsty animals 
are obliged to toil for miles together in the heat & dust with the 
sound of water in their ears & neither man or beast able to get a 

— Polly Coon, 1852 Oregon emigration 

The Snake River (which emigrants also knew as Lewis's Fork of the 
Columbia River) takes its modern name from the so-called Snake 
Indians who controlled that region. Snake was the common name 
given by nineteenth century white Americans to the various Shoshone 
groups, possibly because the sign language for Shoshone was a 
snake-like motion of the hand. Many Shoshone groups depended 
on Snake River salmon as a primary food source. (Buffalo, once 

common on the Snake River 
Plain, were rare there by the 
1840s.) Emigrants following 
the Oregon Trail sometimes 
encountered Shoshone Indians 
and their Paiute friends, the 
Bannocks, fishing along the 
river. Sick of a diet of bacon 
and beans, travelers were happy 
for a chance to trade for fresh 
salmon. These encounters 
The Shoshone people viewed the typically were peaceful, with the 

emigrants as a threat to their survival, emigrant "trade caravans" meeting 

Courtesy of Library of Congress. up with the Indian "food bazaars" 

and everyone hoping to strike a 
good deal. But while emigrants grudgingly admired the native Plains 
horsemen they had met earlier along the trail, some scorned the 
Snake River people — especially poorer groups without horses — and 
tended to treat them harshly, sometimes brutally. For their own part, 
the Shoshones and Bannocks were skilled nighttime raiders who 
could make horses, mules, and oxen vanish from under the noses of 
wagon-camp guards. Sometimes after a quiet night, a guard would be 
discovered dead in the morning, his eyes open wide in surprise, his 
chest pierced by silent arrows. By the 1850s, many emigrants regarded 

Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

the Snake Country as the most dangerous part of the overland trails. 
The native people of the region viewed the emigrants as a threat to 
their very survival. 

/ can hardly lay down to sleep without It seems as though The 
Indians stood all around me ready to masacree me, shall he glad 
to go. 

— Amelia Hadley, 1851 Oregon emigration 

But Indians vv^ere the least of the worries faced by the first covered 
wagon pioneers who rolled into Idaho. 

Towering basalt clijfs frequently kept thirsty emigrants and livestock from the life-saving 
waters of the Snake River. 

Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 



"Emigrant Party on the Road to California. " Courtesy of 
Beniecke Rare Book & Manuscript Collection, Yale University. 

The 69 men, women, and children who joined the first emigrant 
wagon train to set out across the Kansas prairie knew where they 
were going: to California, some 2,000 miles away. And they knew how 
they would get there: they would go west until they arrived. It was an 
elegant plan; but the 
devil, as they say, was 
in the details. 

In May 1841, no 

wagon roads to 

Oregon or California 

yet existed. There were 

only long-distance 

Indian footpaths worn 

deeper by fur trade 

traffic following the 

Platte River toward the 

Rocky Mountains. No 

member of the emigrant 

party knew the route, and no useful government map or published 

guidebook was available to advise tenderfoot travelers along the way. 

On top of all that, these American emigrants would be trespassers in 

much of the country to be crossed and illegal squatters on the land 

they planned to settle, for nothing west of the Continental Divide was 

American soil. Mexico claimed the Southwest, the U.S. and Great 

Britain disputed the Oregon Country, and American Indian peoples — 

nations, really, with distinctive languages and cultures — occupied and 

controlled the region. Yet the members of the "Western Emigration 

Society," as these pioneers called themselves, were determined to go 

overland to California and confident they would get there. 

No one of the party knew anything about mountaineering and 
scarcely anyone had ever been into the Indian Territory, yet a 
large majority felt that we were fully competent to go anywhere 
no matter what the difficulties might be or how numerous and 
warlike the Indians. 
— ^John Bidwell, 1841 California emigration 

Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

What these greenhorns lacked in good sense they made up in 
good fortune. Near the start of their trip, just a few days west of 
Independence, Missouri, they met up with Thomas "Broken Hand" 
Fitzpatrick. The famed mountain man was guiding a company of 
missionaries bound for the Pacific Northwest, but he agreed to take 
the emigrants along through the Rocky Mountains. "And it was well 
that [he] did, '' recalled pioneer John Bidwell years later, "for otherwise 
probably not one of us would ever 
have reached California, because 
of our inexperience." 

Fitzpatrick led the combined 

company up Nebraska's Platte 

River, through the Rockies and 

across the Continental Divide 

at South Pass, Wyoming, and 

into today's Idaho southeast of 

present-day Montpelier. The 

party then followed the flow 

of the Bear River northwestward 

past Soda Springs to Sheep Rock, 

where the river curls around the 

north end of the Wasatch Mountains and turns back to the south. 

There, Fitzpatrick's party prepared to split up: the missionaries and 

their guide would continue to the Northwest by way of Fort Hall, a 

Hudson's Bay Company fur 
trade post, and the settlers 
would turn, pilotless, toward 

Relatively flat land and adequate 
water made for a good wagon road in 
the Bear River valley. 

"Westward America," by William 
Henry Jackson, near Split Rock, 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


. . .there was no road for us to follow, nothing was known of the 
country, and we had nothing to guide us, and so [Fitzpatrick] 
advised us to give up the California project. He thought it was 
doubtful if we ever got there; we might get caught in the snow of the 
mountains and perish there, and he considered it very hazardous to 
attempt it. 

— ^Josiah Belden, 1841 California emigration 

Fitzpatrick believed the inexperienced emigrants were foolish to 
blunder into the unmapped interior on their own. He persuaded 
about half of them to give up their California dreams and follow 
the Snake and Columbia Rivers to Oregon, instead. The other 34 
determined emigrants (including a woman and infant) spurned the 
mountain man's sensible advice and turned their oxen south down 
the Bear River toward the Great Salt Lake. The Bidwell-Bartleson 
Party, as that group is now known, took the first wagons into 
northern Utah, but the trial-and-error trail they blazed down the Bear 
River, around the Great Salt Lake, and into Nevada was so difficult 
that few would attempt to follow in their track. Later California- 
bound travelers developed a network of better routes through 
southeastern Idaho. 

We were now thrown entirely upon our own resources. All the 
country beyond was to us a veritable terra incognita, and we 
only knew that California lay to the west. 

— ^John Bidwell, 1841 California emigration 

But the other Western Emigration Society pioneers left their wagons 
at Fort Hall and continued with pack animals along the Snake River, 
as Fitzpatrick had advised. Their faint trace through the sagebrush 
would become the main emigrant route to Oregon, leading thousands 
of people west over the next 30 years. 

As more wagons trickled and then flooded across the West, the track 
along the Snake River evolved into a wagon trail and finally a network 
of well-beaten roads that snaked around mountains and marshes, 
kept to high ground, and generally went wherever water and grass 
could be found. These roads were not rustic wagon-width versions 
of today's paved highways, direct and efficient, with two lanes for 

Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

traffic to follow in orderly single file. Rather, they were evolving, 
bustling, multi-lane, winding, spreading-out and drawing-in, free- 
for-all travel corridors with no rules of the road, constrained in their 
wanderings and widths only by geography and the locations of grass 
and water. They went wherever somebody thought he could drive a 
wagon, and they were developed by repeated use, rarely by engineers 
or work crews. Over the years, travelers developed a tangle of wagon 
trails through the basin and range country of southeastern Idaho and 
across the Snake River Plain as they sought out shorter, easier, or safer 
ways west. 

The Snake River route formed the spine of the combined Oregon and 
California Trails. To reach the river, westbound wagons first had to 
thread through the mountains of southeastern Idaho. 

The basic course of the road to Oregon followed the Platte River to the Sweetwater, to 
the Bear, to the Snake, and ultimately, to the Columbia. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 



The combined Oregon and California Trails enter eastern Idaho 
from Wyoming through the natural mountain-edged corridor 
of the Bear River Valley. That valley was glorious: nearly 80 miles of 
abundant water, cool air, spectacular scenery, and plentiful timber, 
grass, fish, and wildfowl. Its beauty and bounty, coming on the 
heels of a hard, dry haul across southwestern Wyoming, raised the 
emigrants' spirits and inspired some writers to poetry. 

Love never dwelt in a much more charming valley. Here one 
might live secluded. From side to side his eyes might rest on 
mountain tops and no gate left open, except where the babbling 
waters play. 

— ^John Edwin Banks, 1849 California gold rush 

The main trail crosses the 

Thomas Fork, stays north of the 

Bear River, and climbs directly 

into the Sheep Creek Hills. 

That climb was hard but the 

descent was far worse, forcing 

emigrants to lock their wagon 

wheels for a long, frightening 

skid down Big Hill to the valley 

floor. Furrows scoured into the 

earth by unyielding iron-rimmed 

wheels are visible today from U.S. 

Highway 30. From there the main 

trail went along the north side of the 

Bear River Valley through today's 

Montpelier and on to Soda Springs, 

one of the natural wonders of the Oregon and California Trails. The 

Soda Springs are a complex of gaseous mud-pots, fountains, and 

naturally carbonated pools, which according to Shoshone tradition 

are healing waters. 

The descent from Big Hill followed 
the wash just to the left of center in 
this image. Courtesy of Wisconsin 
Historical Society. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

My spirits were low till I heard, "There is the Soda Springs. " This 
acted like electricity.... They are wonderful and deserve a place in 
the wonders of the earth. 

— ^John Edwin Banks, 1849 California gold rush 

The whole valley. . . is the most interesting spot of earth that I 
ever beheld. Here is a grand field for the geologist, mineralogist, 
naturalist, & any other kind of 'isf that you can conceive. 
— Dr. Wakeman Bryarly, 1849 California gold rush 

The most famous of these 
features was Steamboat Spring, 
which huffed and whistled like 
a steamboat as pressurized 
gas and water erupted from 
a low travertine cone. Sarah 
White Smith, traveling with a 
missionary company in 1838, 
watched a prankster try to stop 
Steamboat Spring from spouting 
by removing his trousers 

and sitting on the cone's six-inch "Steam Boat springs" by artist James 

opening. P- Wilkins, 1849, at Soda Springs, 

Idaho. Courtesy of the Wisconsin 

"He did not have to wait very long ^'''''''''^ ^'"'"'y- 
for the flow, " she recounted. "It came gradually at first, but increased 
in force every moment. Doyle soon began bobbing up and down at 
a fearful rate. At this stage of the fun several of the boys took hold of 
Doyle and tried to hold him on the crevice, but in this they failed, for 
the more weight they added to Doyle the more power the spring seemed 
to have, and Doyle kept bobbing up and down like a cork. " The man 
finally pleaded to be released, exclaiming, '7 am now pounded into a 

Steamboat Spring is submerged by Alexander Reservoir now, but 
a churning on the lake surface reveals its location. Dozens of other 
springs have been altered or destroyed by years of development, 
which began in 1863 when a settlement and an army camp were 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


established in the area. A few, including Hooper Springs, are still local 
attractions. Emigrants loved to sample their water, using flavorings 
to create soda beverages, mixing it into bread dough for leavening, or 
just drinking it like beer and imagining themselves growing tipsy. 

The Sody Spring is quite a curiosity thare is a great many of them 
Just boiling rite up out of the ground take alitle sugar and desolve 
it in alitle water and then dip up acupfull and drink it before it 
looses itgass it is frustrate [first rate] I drank ahol ofgalon of it. 
— William J. Scott, 1846 Oregon emigration 

But in the Bear River Valley, emigrants began encountering another 
natural wonder that was not so much fun: crawling armies of large, 
leggy "crickets" that devoured anything in their path. 

The "crickets" are really a type of katydid — not a true cricket, a 

locust, or a grasshopper — that feeds on sagebrush and other plants. 

Periodically their population booms and they swarm by the millions, 

as many as 100 per square 

yard, across the Desert West. 

They will gobble up gardens 

and field crops, munch on 

clothing, quilts, and linens, 

and even cannibalize their 

own kind. They earned their 

popular name. Mormon cricket^ 

when they attacked settler's 

crops around Salt Lake City in 

1848. Native peoples used the 

insects to make protein-rich 

soups and pemmican "bread," but 

most emigrants regarded Mormon 

crickets as unappetizing. 

Mormon cricket. Courtesy of Idaho 

The ground, for a strip of about four miles, was covered with 
black crickets of a large size. I saw some that were about three 

inches in length Our teams made great havoc among them; so 

numerous were they that we crushed them at every step. 
— ^Joel Palmer, 1846 Oregon emigration 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

Wingless, dumpy, black, swollen-headed, with bulging eyes 
in cases like goggles, mounted upon legs of steel wire and 
clock-spring, and with a general appearance that justified the 
Mormons in comparing him to a cross of the spider on the 
buffalo, the Deseret cricket comes down from the mountains at a 
certain season of the year, in voracious and desolating myriads. 
— Thomas Leiper Kane, in "The Mormons, a discourse 
delivered before the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 
March 26, 1850" 

Sheep Rock, called Soda Point today, 
is the northern end of the Wasatch 
Mountains. Courtesy of Library of 

A few miles west of Soda 

Springs, the Bear River hairpins 

around Sheep Rock and flows 

lazily south toward the Great 

Salt Lake. Sheep Rock, named 

for the bighorn sheep that 

passing emigrants sometimes 

saw there, is where the 1841 

Western Emigration Society 

split up, with Fitzpatrick's 

company going on to Fort Hall 

and the Bidwell-Bartleson Party 

continuing down the river toward 

Utah. In 1849 a third alternate, the 

Hudspeth Cutoff, was blazed as 

a shortcut to California. It angled 

directly southwest away from the Bear River at Sheep Rock toward 

the northeast corner of present-day Nevada, and soon became 

the preferred route of the 1849 gold rushers and later emigrants to 

California. Some Oregon traffic, as well as California-bound travelers 

hoping to resupply, continued northwest along Fitzpatrick's route 

toward the Snake River and Fort Hall. 

Good bye to Bear River. In one mile farther we reached the 
junction of the Ft. Hall and Headspeth's cut off roads, and after 
some debate and a vote it was decided to go by Ft. Hall, the 
minority grumbling greatly. The Mountaineers had invariably 
advised us to take this rout. 

— Byron N. McKinstry, 1850 California emigration 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


As the trail crosses today's Fort Hall Indian Reservation and 
approaches the site of the old Fort Hall trading post, the Lander 
Cutoff merges from the east. This cutoff, developed in 1857-59 by 
government engineer Frederick Lander, was the only federally funded 
road ever constructed for the overland emigration. Lander's road 
went directly from the Ninth Crossing of the Sweetwater River, near 
South Pass, Wyoming, to Fort Hall, thus bypassing the original trail's 
long meander southwest through Fort Bridger. But Fort Hall never 
served the emigrants who arrived by the Lander Cutoff. By the time 
the new road opened to traffic, the old fur-trade depot was closed 
and abandoned. 

Fort Hall, built in 1834 by New England businessman Nathaniel 
Wyeth, was the first permanent American post in the entire Oregon 
Country. Hardball business tactics by rival Hudson's Bay Company 
soon drove Wyeth into debt and forced him to sell his enterprise to 
the British-owned corporation. As the profitable beaver-pelt trade 
collapsed in the early 1840s, the Hudson's Bay Company might 

•..*^m ■■**" •^-ftifc 

"Old Fort Hall Trading Post on the Snake River, " by William Henry 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

have closed Fort Hall for good — but former trappers like Thomas 
Fitzpatrick found work as trail guides and began bringing new 
customers to the post. The developing Oregon Trail helped keep Fort 
Hall in business for another 15 years. 

Fort Hall was the last trading post for many miles, and as California- 
bound Margaret Frink wearily observed in 1850, from there "the 
worst part of the road is yet to be passed over. " It was a place where 
emigrants could re-supply, repair wagons and equipment, exchange 
livestock, and steel themselves for the hardest leg of their journey. 
Even the exceptionally fierce clouds of mosquitoes that greeted 
arrivals to Fort Hall did not discourage business. Many emigrant 
parties stayed for several days, camping among the notoriously buggy, 
boggy river bottoms around the post. 

We camped four miles from the fort [Hall] amonst a million 
ofmosquitos they would not let you rest a moment and after 
swallowing a cup of tea and about fifty of them with it I bundled 
up head and ears and let them sing me to sleep. 
— ^Joseph Hackney, 1849 California gold rush 

Mosquitos were as thick as flakes in a snowstorm. The poor 
horses whinnied all night, from their bites, and in the morning 
blood was streaming down their sides. 

— Margaret Frink, Fort Hall, 1850 California emigration 

/ have been much in musquitoe country, but confess I never 
before saw them in their glory. They were so thick you could 
reach out & get your handfull. 

— Dr. Wakeman Bryarly, 1849 California gold rush 

Ironically, the very success of the emigration helped put an end to 
the fort, for the swelling tide of wagon traffic through the Snake 
Country ignited Shoshone and Bannock resistance. Conflict in the 
region helped persuade the Hudson's Bay Company to close its Snake 
River posts in 1855-56. Floods gradually washed away the fort's 
adobe buildings, but emigrants continued using the site for camping 
and some independent traders operated there. Today, Shoshone and 
Bannock guides lead travelers to the site of the old post, where they 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


can enjoy an authentic trail experience: the mosquitoes there are as 
welcoming as ever! 

Starting in 1852, travelers to Oregon could cross to the north side of 
the Snake River near Fort Hall and take Jeffrey's Cutoff, later called 
the Goodale Cutoff, along the upper edge of the Snake River Plain. 
This 230-mile alternate goes generally northwestward from the fort 
toward Big Southern Butte, a notable landmark on the plain. The 
Goodale Cutoff then turns west and crosses the north end of today's 
Craters of the Moon National Monument. Trail remnants all along 
this route are still visible. They rejoin the primary route of the Oregon 
Trail east of Boise. It is a sun-baked, boot-shredding, wagon-jolting 
route that alternately crosses rugged lava flows, dense stands of 
sagebrush, and sand barrens with no feed for the livestock. Despite its 
challenges, the Goodale Cutoff became a popular option for Oregon- 
bound emigrants in 1862 when fights between emigrants and Indians 
along the Snake River road were making national news. 

The roadbed is only known by the rocks and lava being crushed 
by the many teams passing over it... all day long we slowly creep 
along lacerating our horses feet and threatening wheels, axles, 
or some portion of our outfit. All along were pieces of broken 
wagons which had met with such accidents. 

— Harriet A. Loughary on 

Goodale's Cutoff, 1864 

Oregon emigration 

Most wagon trains departing 
Fort Hall, though, turned west 
to follow the combined Oregon/ 
California Trail down the south 
rim of the Snake River, which 
lay snug in its deep bed of 
basalt. The main trail crawled 
southwestward over increasingly 
rough terrain and, in places, along 
dangerously narrow riverside bluffs 
One or two days' travel — about 
25 miles — over that road brought 

Dams on the Snake River have 
reduced the roaring waterflow, 
revealing the deep basalt walls that 
determine its course. Courtesy of Idaho 
State University Department of Geology. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

travelers to the American Falls, where the river dropped 50 feet in 
a series of roaring Whitewater cascades. Emigrant journals often 
remarked on the spot's natural beauty and sometimes mentioned 
trading with Indians for fish at this location. The tranquility of the 
place belies the violence that occurred nearby one hot August evening 
in 1859. 

The Miltimore Party, a wagon train of 19 men, women, and children 
on their way to California, had strung out along the trail as they 
approached their evening camp above American Falls. Several well- 
armed white men poorly disguised as Indians — having dark skin 
but light brown hair and beards and speaking standard English — 
suddenly approached on horseback and commandeered two lagging 
wagons at the rear of the train. At their signal, 15 to 20 more men 
jumped the rear wagons and began shooting, sparing no one. The 
forward wagons quickly were drawn into the attack, as well. Some 
emigrants escaped into thick willows along the river, where they 
listened, terrified, to the "whooping and hollering of the Indians" 
through the night. 

An army expedition from Fort Walla Walla, encamped on the Raft 
River, came across 11 survivors afoot on the trail three days later. 
Soldiers looking for more survivors found a horrific scene of brutality 

at the attack site. They buried 
eight victims in a common 
grave that now rests beneath 
American Falls Reservoir. 
Indians, probably Shoshones 
and Bannocks, took part in the 
killings, but according to some 
of the survivors, white "land 
pirates" in search of plunder 
master-minded the ambush. 

Volcanic basalt along the south side of 
the Snake River Canyon at Massacre 
Rocks provided hiding places where 
unsuspecting wagon trains could be 

Three years later and about 
10 miles west of the Miltimore 
killing grounds, in an area now 
called Massacre Rocks, about 150 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


fighters under the Northwestern Shoshone War Chief Pocatello 
engaged several more wagon companies in retaliation for earlier 
unprovoked attacks by emigrants on his own people. Again, some 
survivors reported white renegades among the attackers. Ten 
emigrants and eight Indian fighters died in those skirmishes of August 
9-10, 1862. Pocatello's Shoshone and Bannock warriors launched 
several more strikes that season along the Oregon and California 
Trails in Idaho, hoping to halt emigrant trespass there. Within a year, 
his efforts would pull disaster down on his people. 

"Pilgrims on the Plains, " by Theo R. Davis. During the 1840s and 50s, tetts of 
thousands of emigrants poured across Bannock and Shoshone homelands. Courtesy 
of Library of Congress. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


News and wild rumors of Indian attacks through the 1850s 
and early '60s flashed up and down the trail and appeared in 
newspapers throughout the country, fueling public demand for 
military protection. Meanwhile, many emigrants already on the 

road weighed the risks along 

the Oregon and California 
routes ahead. Some 15 miles 
west of Massacre Rocks, at 
the Raft River Parting of the 
Ways, travelers would get 
another chance to choose their 

They anxiously collected 
accounts of sickness and 
other troubles on the various 
routes. They wondered if their draft 
animals could better stand up to 
the ox-killing desert crossing into 
California or the exhausting pull 

Newpaper stories and rumors of 
frequent Indian attacks stirred fears 
among emigrants traveling along 
the Snake River. Courtesy of Library of 

over the Blue Mountains toward 
Oregon City. They pondered whether they had enough food to get 
them directly to the California gold fields, or if they should take the 
northern route to Oregon in hopes of finding game or trade along the 
way. They fretted that splitting up their wagon train at the Parting of 
the Ways might make their smaller parties more vulnerable to attack, 
accident, or starvation. But some simply set worries aside, shrugged 
their shoulders, and let chance decide their fate. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


We arose this morning with a full determination of going to 
Oregon, but when we reached the junction of the road, the 
team stopped. Part of us, after everything was taken into 
consideration, concluded to try our fortunes in California; 
the remainder gave in and we concluded to let the oxen decide 
our destiny. We started them and awaited the issue with great 
anxiety; they turned to the left, leaving the Oregon road to the 

— ^Jacob S. Hayden, 1852 California emigration 

And at last, for better or for worse, after crossing the narrow, gravel- 
bottomed Raft River they made their choice. The flow of traffic split, 
the left branch turning southwest to California and the right branch 
going west to Oregon, and the diverging wagon ruts they created still 
are plainly visible for several miles west of the river crossing. The 
primary route of the Oregon Trail continues down the south side of 
the Snake River past Rock Creek and the scenic Thousand Springs 
area to Three Island Crossing — another important point of decision. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


Three Island Crossing, now an Idaho state park west of Glenns 
Ferry, had many hazards a 19th-century overlander dreaded in a 
river ford: deep, fast water, an uneven bottom with treacherous holes, 
and a local Indian population who sometimes would help and other 
times harass emigrants. 

The process of fording was 

tricky and dangerous under the 

best of conditions. If a wheel 

plunged into a hidden hole, 

the wagon might tip and roll, 

pulling the yoked oxen and 

any passengers underwater 

to drown. Possessions 

drifting downstream from the 

overturned wagon might be 

fished from the current, but food 

would be ruined and the loss of 

several oxen would be devastating. 

With no draft animals, emigrants 

were forced to abandon their wagon 

and most of their belongings and continue on foot, carrying what 

they could. 

The bottom is very uneven; there are holes found of six or eight 
feet in width, many of them swimming. Those crossing this 
stream can escape the deepest of these holes by having horsemen 
in the van and at each side; it is necessary that there be attached 
to each wagon four or six yoke of oxen, the current being swift; 
and in the passage of these holes. . .when one yoke is compelled 
to swim, the others may be in shallow water. 
— ^Joel Palmer, 1845 Oregon emigration 

Crossing the swift currents of the 
Snake River at Three Island Crossing 
was tricky and dangerous. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


From the north side of Three 
Island Crossing, the main route 
of the Oregon Trail leaves 
the Snake River and heads 
directly northwest into the 
foothills. In about six miles 
the trail reaches Alkali Creek, 
where Theodore Talbot, a 
young member of John C. 
Fremont's 1843 exploratory 
expedition, recorded a 
heartrending encounter with 
an impoverished but dignified 
Shoshone family. 

The main route of the Oregon Trail 
continues northwest from Three Island 

The starving family of five approached the company's campfire and 
watched silently as the men sat at their evening meal. "The little party 
watched the progress of our meal in eager expectation: all pinched alike 
by famine, their mouths watering as they gazed with riveted eyes on 
the food, which we thankless and ungrateful as we are, were ready but 
a few moments before to condemn and repine against, " wrote Talbot. 
The men of the expedition, which included Bidwell's wagon guide, 
Thomas Fitzpatrick, graciously shared their food. Then: 

"Old Fitzpatrick, like the rest of us, moved by their misery offered 
to adopt their little boy and thus rescue him from the sad fate which 
it seemed probably would await him, " Talbot recounted. "But his 
offers were useless. The mother lent a deaf ear to every argument 
that could be adduced, her only answer being 'Paleface I love my 
child'! and with tearful eyes she drew her son closer...." 

Such moments of shared humanity between white and Indian people 
along the trails must have happened often, especially during the early 
years of the emigration. Judging from emigrant reminiscences and 
journal accounts like Talbot's, people were deeply moved by these 
personal encounters and passed down the stories to their children. 
But because these accounts did not command public attention at 
the time, stories of conflict came to weigh much more heavily in the 
history of the trails. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

About 1 1 miles beyond Alkali Creek, the Oregon Trail merges with the 
North Alternate trail, used by the few emigrants who had crossed the 
river at various points upstream. Near that junction, wagons rolled 
past a popular hot spring and a rock formation later called Teapot 
Dome, and soon were joined by more traffic entering from the east 
via the Goodale Cutoff. Continuing northwestward, travelers paused 
at Bonneville Point overlook to view the lovely Boise River Valley 
below. Boise^ named by French-Canadian trappers, means wooded^ 
and the trees along the river were the first the emigrants had seen in 
many miles. From Bonneville Point, it is about 40 miles to the modern 
border of Idaho and Oregon. Within that stretch of trail occurred 
one of the earliest, most brutal and highly publicized wagon train 
massacres along the entire Oregon Trail. 

In August 1854, about 30 
Shoshone fighters attacked 
the 20-member Ward Party 
following a dispute over 
a horse near present-day 
Caldwell. Several men from a 
train up ahead, searching for 
lost livestock, encountered 
the attack in progress and 
attempted rescue. They 
retreated under heavy fire after 

Ward Wagon Train Memorial marker ^ne of their number waS mortally 

near Caldwell, Idaho. wounded. When the fight was 

finished, eighteen emigrant men, 
women, and children from the Ward train lay dead; only two boys, 
both wounded, survived, hidden in the brush. U.S. Army investigators 
arrested four Shoshone men for the killings the next year, and a 
tribunal of army officers tried and convicted them. Soldiers shot one 
of the prisoners as he tried to escape, and hanged the other three men 
on gallows erected over the emigrants' mass grave at Caldwell. Two 
more Shoshone men later were executed separately by the army for 
the Ward attack. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


...It was found that the Indians had burned the wagons and had 

also burned up the children This is one of the most horrible, 

massacres of which I ever heard. 

— Winfield Scott Ebey, 1854 Oregon emigration 

The Oregon Trail continues west from that sad scene for 25 miles to 
the Fort Boise trading post, on the east bank of the Snake River near 
today's Parma. Fort Boise was established in 1834, with the backing 
of the Hudson's Bay Company, to compete with Nathaniel Wyeth's 
Fort Hall. It originally stood on the bank of the Boise River but was 
relocated about seven miles in 1838 to the confluence of the Boise 
and Snake Rivers. This Hudson's Bay Company operation was staffed 
in part by Hawaiian (Owyhee) employees and was a popular emigrant 
supply point for many years. The company abandoned the post in 
1855 following the attack on the Ward Party. From Fort Boise, the 
primary route of the Oregon 
Trail crosses the Snake River 
one last time and enters today's 
state of Oregon, where it strikes 
northwestward to the Columbia 

But only about half of Oregon- 
bound emigrants took the 
main northern route from 
the Snake River to Fort Boise. 
Back at Three Island Crossing, 
high water sometimes prevented 
emigrants from fording to the north 
side of the Snake River; and some 
travelers were simply too afraid 

of the swift, dark water to chance a crossing even under normal 
conditions. Happily, there was an option: wagons could continue 
down the south side of the Snake River and avoid the dangerous 
crossing here and again at Fort Boise. Unhappily, the route was 
rougher and notoriously dry and grassless. 

View from site on the Snake River 
where the original Fort Boise Trading 
Post stood. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

This is, perhaps, the most rugged, desert and dreary country, 
between the Western borders of the United States and the shores 
of the Pacific. It is nothing else than a wild, rocky, barren 
wilderness, of wrecked and ruined nature, a vast field of volcanic 

— William H. Winter, 1843 Oregon emigration 

And it was as vulnerable to violence as the primary route north 

of the river. On September 9-10, 1860, Bannocks and Shoshones 

carried out a two-day siege of the 44-member Utter- Van Ornum 

wagon train west of today's town of Grand View, Idaho. This was 

one of the rare instances 

where emigrants circled their 

wagons for protection, as in 

popular Western movies of 

the 1950s. But that defensive 

action did not save them: 11 

of the company, including 

two women and three small 

children, died in the initial 

attacks, and the others fled for 

their lives into the sagebrush. 

About 30 Shoshone and 

Bannock men died in the 

attack, as well. 

\An Orntrni* 
Graves & Sgns« 

HV/Y 20^ • 20 ' 

Utter Starvation 
Camp & Signs, 



'}■>'} r ml- ■jute'i 



I UJer Disaster 
Relate Signs 

I Cities & Towns 

^Hwr :^0l 

Mar sing 

S?|jE Murphy 

2 |0 Castle Butte Utter < 
Attack & Signs 

Grand view<»> 

Castle 'OeeK 

Map showing the various locations 
where many in the Utter-Van Ornum 
train perished. Courtesy of the Idaho 
Chapter of OCTA. 

Events during and after the fight 
are complicated and often sordid, 
involving heroism, loyalty, and self-sacrifice as well as cowardice, 
betrayal, cruelty, and self-serving lies that delayed and misdirected 
rescue efforts. Seventeen survivors of the initial attack soon 
regrouped in the sagebrush and moved on foot down the river into 
present-day Oregon, casually harried by Indians along the way. After 
struggling along on a starvation diet for nearly 70 miles, the weak 
and exhausted emigrants halted when they reached the Owyhee 
River. The ordeal they suffered during their march and in their desert 
death camp east of Owyhee, Oregon, in some ways surpasses that 
of the better-known Donner Party. As they lay miserably in camp 
praying for rescue, the starving survivors of the Utter Disaster traded 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


their few weapons and much of their clothing to local Shoshones in 
exchange for fish, but the Shoshones soon moved on and left them to 
their fate. Days passed under the hot sun; one by one the people were 
dying. In desperation, the Van Ornum family and three unrelated 
emigrants decided to walk out and fmd help. Those remaining in 
camp resorted to eating the dead in order to survive. 

Meanwhile, several men who had broken away from the initial fight 
eventually reached safety and spread news of the attack. The first to 
report was a former soldier who had stolen a horse and deserted the 
emigrants during the fight. He claimed to be the only survivor of the 
wagon train massacre, and he told so many conflicting stories that 
authorities initially did not believe a word of it. Accurate accounts 
from a pair of brothers who stumbled into the Umatilla Indian 
Agency at the Columbia River finally spurred rescue efforts. 

On October 19, thirty-nine days after the attack, a U.S. Army relief 

expedition searching for survivors along the Burnt River found and 

rescued two of the wagon party who had become separated from 

the main group. On October 25, forty-five days after the attack, the 

rescuers found the remaining 

10 pitiable survivors awaiting 

death in their Owyhee 

River encampment. Near 

today's Huntington, Oregon, 

roughly 50 miles from the 

starvation camp, soldiers 

also discovered the mutilated 

and scattered remains of the 

Van Ornum group that had 

gone in search of help. Four 

children with that group were 

unaccounted for, evidently 

taken captive. In the end, only 16 

of the Utter- Van Ornum Party — 

including one captive boy who was given up by the Northwestern 

Shoshones two years later — made it alive out of that "most rugged, 

desert, and dreary country. " 

An on site story board provides brief 
details of the Utter wagon train 
disaster story. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

About ten o'clock in the morning we saw signal fires off a jew 
miles from our camp and we knew that either they were coming 
to kill us or help was close at hand and strange as it may seem. . . 
my heart was so benumbed by my terrible sufferings that I hardly 
cared which it was. 

— Emeline Trimble Fuller, of the Utter- Van Ornum Party, 1892 


Young Reuben Van Ornum (front center) was recovered from a Northwestern 
Shoshone village through the efforts of his Uncle Zachias (left ofRueben) after two 
years of captivity. Courtesy of Utah State University Special Collections. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 



Few of the hundreds of thousands of emigrants to Oregon and 
California ever faced the kind of stark terror and prolonged 
suffering experienced by the Miltimore, Ward, Van Ornum, and 
Utter families during their ordeals on the overland trails. Overlanders 
through Idaho mostly confided to their journals a laundry list of more 
mundane miseries: 

It is dust from morning till night, with now and then a sprinkling of 
gnats and mosquitoes, and as far as the eye can reach it is nothing 
but a sandy desert, covered with wild sage brush, dried up with heat; 
however it makes good firewood. 

— Amelia Knight Stewart, 1853 Oregon emigration 

You in the states know nothing about dust it will fly so that you can 
hardly see the horns of your tonge [tongue] yoke it often seems that 
the cattle must die for the want of breath and then in our wagons 
such a speciacle [spectacle] beds clothes vituals and children all 
completely covered. 

— Elizabeth Dixon, 1847 Oregon emigration 

Killed several large rattle snakes in camp. There is some of the largest 
rattle snakes in this region I ever saw, being from 8 to 12 ft long, and 
about as large as a man's leg about the knee. This is no fiction at all. 
— Amelia Hadley, 1851 Oregon emigration 

Travelled 15 miles today over the most tortous road I ever could 
have imagined, nothing but rock after rock. The country all along 
presents the most barren appearance nothing but sage. Hundreds 
and thousands of acres with no vestage of anything but this hateful 
weed — The sun has been oppressively hot all day and I am wearied 
& suffering from jolting over rocks which has given me a severe 

— Esther Belle Hanna, 1852 Oregon emigration 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

The road was most unaccountably bad, with chucks just large 
enough for the wheels to fit tight in & the dust raising & hanging over 
in a cloud, with not a breath of air stirring to drive it off. 
— Dr. Wakeman Bryarly, 1849 California gold rush 

dry traveling to day, no grass, water very scarce, stopt at noon to 
water at a very bad place on Snake river, V/i mile or more a steep 
bank or precipice the cattle looked like little dogs down there, and 
after all the trouble of getting the poor things down there, they were 
so tired they could not drink and was obliged to travel back, and 
take the dusty road again, we are still traveling on in search of 
water, water 

— Amelia Knight Stewart, 1853 Oregon emigration 

We packed water up the bluff to our camp. The bluffs at this place 
exceed one thousand feet in height; they are of basalt. 
— ^Joel Palmer, 1845 Oregon emigration 

I do not think I ever shall forget the sight of so many dead animals 
seen along the trail. It is like something out of Dante's Inferno, — this 
barren waste of lava peopled with the skeletons of animals. 
— Esther Belle Hanna, 1852 Oregon emigration 

As soon as an ox dies, he bloats as full as the skin will hold (and 
sometimes bursts), and his legs stick straight out and soon smells 

horribly Thus they lie strewed on every hill and in every valley, 

thus poisoning the otherwise pure air. The most die after getting over 
some hard place, or long stretch. 

— Byron McKinstry, 1850 California emigration 

We are near being eaten alive by the mosquitoes, there are thousands 

of them buzzing a bout our ears which makes one almost frantic 

— Esther Belle Hanna, 1852 Oregon emigration 

Lost two more oxen today out of our train, one drowned in the river, 
another died from fatigue. A camp near us at noon had 12 sick in it, 
all the same disease, some of them very low. 

— Esther Belle Hanna, 1852 Oregon emigration 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


This day is excessively hot, almost meltings & dust blinding. Ofor 
more patience to endure it all 

— Esther Belle Hanna, 1852 Oregon emigration 

Women, in particular, poured their unhappiness into their journals. 
Their camp chores — packing, unpacking, fuel-collecting, fire- 
making, cooking, dishwashing, laundry, mending, child care, 
childbirth — were exhausting and constant. In many cases, wives had 
had no voice in the decision to leave their comfortable homes and 
move their families thousands of miles in a covered wagon. Their 
husbands one day had announced they were going. They cried, but 
they went. It was what a good wife did. 

Noontime and evening camp along the trail meant a time to rest 
for some and a time of exhausting chores for others. Courtesy of 
Library of Congress. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


. . . The [California] road bids farewell to the Snake River and strikes off 
to the left. Here also 'The Oregon Trail' strikes off to the right & leaves us 
alone in our glory, with no other goal before us but Death or the Diggins. 
— Dr. Wakeman Bryarly, 1849 California gold rush 

Back at the Raft River Parting of the Ways, those who favored 
California turned southwest up the broad Raft River Valley. The 
trail soon swings west at Cassia Creek and begins climbing toward a 
pass between two mountain ranges. On the Cassia Creek bottoms, 
about 30 miles from the Parting of the Ways, the Hudspeth Cutoff 
from Sheep Rock rejoins the California road. 

The Hudspeth Cutoff is a difficult, 110-mile alternate opened by 

Forty-niners in a hurry to reach the California gold fields but in the 

end it snips fewer than 25 miles from the primary route through 

Fort Hall. The route saved miles, but not time. Trains that split at the 

Hudspeth junction, with one group taking the cutoff and the other 

following the Raft River, typically rolled into the City of Rocks at the 

same time. Still, many travelers 

thought the more direct route 

was worth the demand on their 

oxen, and so the Hudspeth 

Cutoff captured much of the 

California traffic through the 

coming years. As emigrant 

traffic and Indian troubles 

in the area grew, though, the 

cutoff proved no safer and no 

faster than the old Fort Hall 

route. In July 1859, a month 

before the Miltimore killings at ^^P of Oregon Trail variants through 

American Falls, attackers ambushed ^^^^^- ^^"^'^'^ ^^^^^ ^'^'^ ^^'^^ 
two small wagon trains on the 

Hudspeth Cutoff. They killed six emigrants and wounded seven 
others. As in the later attacks, survivors reported that "white Indians" 
as well as Bannocks and Shoshones were involved. 

r\ rsifTT* nr* 




Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


The merged California traffic snaked up Cassia Creek and turned 
south toward the magnificent City of Rocks, a well-watered, sage- 
scented valley trimmed with wondrous rock formations that thrilled 
the emigrants and lit their imaginations. Many likened the place to a 
"silent city" of pyramids, cathedrals, and castles. 

Here all the language that I Command, will not describe the Scenery 
around our encampment it is rich beyond anything I have [ever] 

beheld If a mountain distroying Angel had been dispatched here 

with power to distoy and Scater the elements of the Mountains. He 
could not hae done more than has been done here 
— Richard M. May, 1848 California emigration 

We were so spellbound with the beauty and strangeness of it all that 
no thought of Indians entered our heads. 

— Helen Carpenter, 1857 California emigration 

Pyramid Circle, Twin Sisters, Napoleon's Castle, City Hotel — these 
were among the granite monoliths that emigrants merrily explored 
and named as they continued down the California Road through the 
City of Rocks. Today the valley is still a popular attraction. City of 
Rocks National Reserve, where visitors can explore the countryside, 
retrace wagon ruts through the sagebrush, and photograph emigrant 
names painted with axle grease onto rock "registers." 

But the Northern Shoshones, too, have always valued the area. Here 
is the northernmost occurrence of the pinyon pine, which yields the 
nutritious pine nuts that were a staple of their diet. Here they hunted 
game, harvested wild plant foods, and grazed their horse herds. 
Most importantly, here was their home, and in this country of scarce 
resources, intruders were not welcome. 

Wise travelers did not linger at the City of Rocks, but continued 
steadily southwest toward Pinnacle Pass. There the road threads 
a narrow, wagon-wide gap between two granite pinnacles, forcing 
traffic to roll through in single file. Just ahead, another trail alternate 
brought more merging wagons from the southeast. That road, 
Hensley's Salt Lake Cutoff, was used by travelers who had split off 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

the main trail back at Fort Bridger, Wyoming, to re-supply or lay over 
at the Mormon capital of Salt Lake City. Now traffic from the Raft 
River Road of the California Trail, the Hudspeth Cutoff, and the Salt 
Lake Cutoff all merged into a river of v^agons and pack trains through 
Shoshone country to Granite Pass. From there they would nick the 
northwestern corner of today's Utah, skid down to Goose Creek in 
present-day Nevada, and begin the greatest ordeal of their overland 

For them, the worst was truly yet to come. 

Twin Sisters, a popular feature photographed by modern-day travelers as they follow 
the California National Historic Trail through City of Rocks. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 



Hostilities between Indians 
and emigrants on the 
Great Plains have been the 
focus of many books and 
movies, but historians figure 
that 90 percent of all armed 
conflict on the overland trails 
actually occurred west of 
the Continental Divide. The 
root causes of these troubles 
were the same in the far West 
as they were on the Plains: 
severe impacts of emigration and 
settlement on native peoples' 
resources, and cultural misunderstandings, mutual suspicion, and 
isolated incidents that caught up innocent people into crushing cycles 
of revenge. Faced with these problems, some Shoshone and Bannock 
warriors tried to shut down the wagon roads and drive out settlers. 

"Native Americans Planning a Raid. 
Courtesy of Library of Congress. 

The extended Shoshone nation during the trails era consisted of 

seven culturally diverse groups spread out between South Pass, 

Wyoming, and Winnemucca, Nevada. They spoke several dialects of 

the Shoshone language and pursued different ways of life depending 

on the resources available in their territories. Some were mounted 

buffalo-hunters, like the Plains tribes to the east. Others were "foot 

Shoshones" who lived along 

the lower Snake River and 

depended mainly on salmon, 

like the Columbia Plateau 

tribes to the west. Some hunted 

big game and fished in the 

mountains and high valleys 

of Utah and Idaho. Still other 

Shoshones were Great Basin 

peoples, with little or no access 

to salmon or bison, who ranged 

long distances on foot to harvest 

'■^^^t^ Jffe 

"Shoshone Camp, " by William Henry 
Jackson. Courtesy of Library of Congress. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

plants and conduct communal drives of small game. The Bannock 
Indians were Northern Paiutes who lived among the Shoshones in 
the Fort Hall area. The Bannocks and some Shoshones were wide- 
ranging buffalo-hunters, but they also fished salmon below Shoshone 

Saw an Indian encampment of the Snake Nation. Some of 
the men are fine looking. One was a complete coxcomb; tall, 
and handsome, his face shining with vermilion, his long hair 
beautifully combed. . . 

— ^John Edwin Banks, 1849 California gold rush 

Shoshone and Bannock interactions with emigrants typically were 

peaceful, if sometimes tense. Native people gave directions and 

advice, pointed travelers to water, traded food for goods, and aided 

emigrants at river crossings in return for payment. Even the Indians' 

horse thievery was mostly for sport, meant to show off their skill 

and daring. Emigrants, in turn, fed Indian visitors at their evening 

campfires, joked and traded with them, and gave them small gifts. But 

as the emigration surged 

in the late 1840s and 

early '50s, the impacts of 

thousands of travelers 

on the region's natural 

resources grew severe. 

In 1852, a peak year in 

the overland emigration, 

some 60,000 people 

and 1.5 million head of 

livestock crossed the 

West on the Oregon 

and California Trails. Emigrant "Pilgrims Crossing the Plains. " Courtesy of 

herds stripped the trail corridor Library of Congress. 

of grass, seed plants, and root 

vegetables that fed Indian people and their horse herds. Emigrants 
hunted the game, fished the rivers, collected the firewood, and claimed 
springs and river accesses as their own campgrounds. Few were willing 
to pay for what they used. Shoshones and Bannocks began collecting 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


their own payments, usually by raiding horses and cattle from the 
emigrant herds. 

The white people have ruined the country of the Snake Indians and 
should therefore treat them well. 

— Charles Pruess, cartographer for Fremont's Second 

Expedition, 1843 

Also in the late 1840s and early '50s, Mormon farms began 
encroaching on Shoshone lands in northern Utah and southern 
Idaho. These settlers converted Shoshone horse pastures and winter 
campsites into plowed fields and cattle range, and diverted streams 
for irrigation. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 
required its members to help feed displaced native people, but this 
effort did not make up for what had been lost. Conflicts erupted as 
Shoshones grew increasingly hungry and upset, demanded food, 
tried to harvest or destroy farmers' crops, and helped themselves to 
settlers' herds. 

Mormon people also gave Indians they met along the road gifts 
of tobacco and food, which led Shoshones to expect the same of 
emigrants on the Oregon and California Trails. Instead, emigrants 
often met approaching Indians with suspicion and hostility, fearing 
an attack, petty thefts from the 
wagons, or a raid on their herds. 
Such fears were not always 

Another of the Shoshones came 
to our tent. They spring up, as 
if by magic, from behind some 
sage-brush; startling one by 
their sudden appearance. 
—Nellie Phelps, 1859 
California emigration 

On the other hand, emigrant 
aggression could cause Shoshones 
and Bannocks to take revenge on the 

Bannock camp. Courtesy of John 
Eldredge (OCTA) Collection. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

guilty and innocent alike. In once instance, a wagon company ran off 
Shoshones who were using a preferred campground at Rock Creek 
in order to claim it for themselves. The offended Shoshones attacked 
the wagon train the next day and harassed other emigrant parties that 
season. Other hostilities arose when a white traveler shot an Indian 
man's dog and when an emigrant purposely tossed a shovelful of 
embers onto the bare feet of a Shoshone visitor. Some emigrants, too, 
took the lives of innocent Indians to avenge livestock thefts and other 
injuries. Chief Pocatello told Frederick Lander in 1860 that emigrants 
recently had killed the family of one of his principal men and that 
"the hearts of his people were very bad against the whites. '' Many of the 
attacks — and some hoax attacks that never happened — along the trail 
are attributed to Pocatello and the warlike Bannocks. Other bands of 
Northwestern Shoshones led by chiefs Bear Hunter, Sampitch, and 
Sagwitch raided Mormon farms and attacked travelers on the roads to 
the Montana goldfields. 

/ was very much frightened while at this campy and lie awake all 
night - 1 expected every minite we would all be killed, however we all 
found our scalps on in the morning. 

— Amelia Knight Stewart at Rock Creek, 1853 Oregon 


[The Indians] have been robd Murdered their women outraged &c 
&c and in fact outrages have been committed by White Men that the 
heart would Shudder to record. 

— Major John Owen, letter to the Flathead Agency of 

Washington Territory, 1861 

The white people have come into my country, and have not asked 
my consent. Why is this? 

— Chief Taghee of the Bannock Tribe, 1867 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


The severity and rising number of attacks along the Oregon and 
California Trails in the Snake Country and on Mormon settlers in 
northern Utah brought the public clamor for military action to a head 
in 1862. On January 29, 1863, some 200 California Volunteers under 

Colonel Patrick Edward Connor 
attacked Bear Hunter's winter 
village of 450 Northwest Band 
Shoshones at the Bear River near 
today's Preston, Idaho. Following 
the fight, Connor reported 
224 Shoshones killed. Others 
counted 200 to 300 Northwest 
Band women, children, and 
men slain, including Chief Bear 
, . , Hunter — but not Pocatello, who 

Interpretive exhibits explain the story . 

of the attack along the Bear River near ^ad departed the Village the previOUS 

Preston, Idaho. day. Mormon settlers who examined 

the field afterward reported 400 to 
nearly 500 dead. Even the lowest numbers rank the Bear River fight 
among the worst mass killing of Indians in U.S. history. 

Also slain were 14 soldiers from Camp Douglas, in Salt Lake 

City; nine more were mortally 

wounded. Although he failed to 

kill or capture Pocatello, Connor 

was hailed as a hero and promoted 

to the rank of brigadier general. 

After Connor's punishing 
attack, the various Shoshone 
and Bannock groups one by one 
signed treaties over the next 
few years, and peace gradually 
settled over the Snake Country 
emigrant routes. Pocatello, once 
the most-feared man along the 
Oregon and California Trails, 
died of natural causes in the midst 
of his family around 1884. He rests 

Colonel Patrick Connor. Courtesy of 
Library of Congress. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

beneath the waters of the American Falls reservoir. His enemy of 
old, Patrick Connor, died seven years later and is buried at the Fort 
Douglas Cemetery in Salt Lake City, near the graves of his California 
Volunteers who were killed in the Bear River fight. 

Stories of revenge and warfare do not accurately reflect overall 
relations between emigrants and Indians along the length of the 
Oregon and California Trails. Countless exchanges of kindness and 
hospitality are noted in emigrant journals, but these did not grab 
newspaper headlines, stoke public outrage, or color the lore of the 
West. Considering that nearly a half-million people took to the 
trails between 1840 and 1869, the deaths of some 400 emigrants at 
the hands of Indians over 30 years figure as rare events. (Historians 
believe more Indians died at the hands of emigrants.) But the violent 
encounters were shocking and widely known among both white and 
native societies. They shaped emigrant and Indian expectations of 
each other, fueled fears and suspicion, and triggered harsh political 
and military reactions among both groups. Although deadly violence 
between emigrants and Indians may have been statistically rare 
through the emigration era, its impact is significant in the history of 
the American West. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 




'he flow of covered wagons 
across Idaho slowed after 
1869. The newly completed 
transcontinental railroad offered 
emigrants a faster, safer, and 
easier way to travel and allowed 
them to "jump off onto the 
trail much farther west. Since 
then, the Indian trails, fur trade 
traces, and wagon tracks that 
once followed the "accursed mad 
river" across southern Idaho 
have been replaced by paved roads 
and interstate highways. Many of 
the place names on modern state 
highway maps are holdovers from the trails era: Fort Hall, Pocatello, 
American Falls, Owyhee, Boise... 

May 10, 1869, Promotory Point north 
of the Great Salt Lake. Courtesy of 
Library of Congress. 

But more than just names remain. Today's visitors can walk in wagon 
ruts at Three Island Crossing, Bonneville Point, Massacre Rocks, and 
many other places. They can taste the soda water at Hooper Springs, 
slap mosquitoes at old Fort Hall, and look off the rimrock to the 
basalt-edged Snake River below. They can bear the shoulder-sagging 
heat of midsummer at Craters of the Moon and breathe the fragrance 
of sagebrush after a thunderstorm over City of Rocks. Landscapes 
where emigrants, native people, and soldiers collided have changed 
little since the 19th-century. In Idaho, the past is still present. 


Auto Tour Route htterpretive Guide 


The Tangle of Trails Through Idaho... 

Variants of the Oregon and California Trails enter Idaho in several 
places and additional alternate routes split off, cross, and merge 
across the state. Auto Tour Route Segment A follows the main route 
of the Oregon Trail and parts of the California Trail from Border 
Junction, Wyoming, to Parma, Idaho, east of the Oregon state line. 
Auto Tour Route Segment B follows the South Alternate of the 
Oregon Trail from Glenns Ferry to Parma. Optional side-trips along 
other variants of the Oregon and California Trails are noted. 

However, numerous trail cutoffs also developed through the years, 
particularly in the basin and range country of southeastern Idaho. 
Some of these cutoffs are Congressionally designated as part of the 
National Trails System, but others are not. The two National Park 
Service fold-out brochures for the Oregon Trail and the California 
Trail show the routes that are part of the National Trails System. 
These brochures, like this guide, are available at many travel and 
visitor centers along the trail routes. 

Variants of the Oregon National Historic Trail in Idaho that appear on 
the brochure map are: 

The Oregon Trail (also called the main or primary route of the 
Oregon Trail). The original Oregon Trail route enters Idaho east 
of Montpelier near the Thomas Fork of the Bear River and heads 
northwest to Fort Hall. At Fort Hall the trail turns west and 
continues down the south side of the Snake River to the wagon 
ford at Three Island Crossing, where it crosses to the north 
side. From there, the trail cuts northwest through the foothills 
to the Boise River and continues to Fort Boise, on the Snake 
River at today's Idaho/Oregon border. The eastern part of the 
Oregon Trail between Thomas Fork and the Raft River Parting 
of the Ways, west of American Falls, also was used by California- 
bound emigrants. This driving guide refers to that segment as the 
combined Oregon /California Trail. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


The South Alternate of the Oregon Trail. When emigrants were 
unable to ford the Snake River at Three Island Crossing, they 
continued west along the south bank of the river. This alternate 
rejoins the Oregon Trail beyond Fort Boise. 

Variants of the California National Historic Trail in Idaho that appear 
on the California brochure map are: 

The California Trail. Many California-bound travelers followed 
the eastern portion of the Oregon Trail through Idaho before 
turning southwest toward Nevada. Before 1849, most took the 
trail from Thomas Fork to Fort Hall and down the south side 
of the Snake River. About 30 miles west of American Falls, the 
California Trail splits off at the Raft River Parting of the Ways and 
swings southwest through the City of Rocks and Granite Pass 
toward Nevada. 

Lander Road. Workmen directed by Frederick Lander, a U.S. 
Government engineer, began constructing this federally funded 
emigrant road between greater South Pass, Wyoming, and Fort 
Hall, Idaho, in 1857. Emigrants bound for Oregon and California 
immediately began using it, although the road was not completed 
until 1859. The Lander Road enters Idaho west of Afton, 
Wyoming, and merges with the Oregon Trail east of Fort Hall. 

The Hudspeth Cutoff. Blazed in 1849 by Benoni Hudspeth and 
John Myers, this cutoff splits from the Oregon Trail near Sheep 
Rock and goes west through four mountain ranges. It merges with 
the original California Trail west of today's town of Malta. This 
difficult but more direct alternate diverted most traffic from the 
older Fort Hall route. 

The Salt Lake Cutoff. This alternate, opened in 1848, was a 
popular option for travelers who took the Hastings Cutoff from 
Fort Bridger, Wyoming, into Utah to resupply or lay over at Salt 
Lake City. From Salt Lake City, the route goes north along the east 
shore of the Great Salt Lake to Brigham City. There it jogs around 
the north end of the lake and crosses into Idaho about 17 miles 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

southeast of Almo. The cutoff merges with the California Trail just 
beyond the Twin Sisters and Pinnacle Pass at City of Rocks. 

Some Oregon-bound emigrants used alternate routes on the north 
side of the Snake River between American Falls and Teapot Dome, 
east of present-day Mountain Home. These trails, called the North 
Alternate and the North Side Alternate, are not addressed in this 
Auto Tour Route guide. Another alternate, the Goodale Cutoff, splits 
off from the combined Oregon/California Trail near Fort Hall. This 
cutoff, which has several sub-variants of its own, goes north to the Big 
Lost River near today's Blackfoot, Idaho, swings west through Craters 
of the Moon National Monument, and rejoins the main Oregon Trail 
east of Boise. The Goodale Cutoff is included here as an "Also of 
Interest item." 

The Idaho interpretive trail guide mostly follows paved interstate, 
federal, state, and local roads, but also offers opportunities to drive 
some unpaved roads suitable for two-wheel-drive vehicles. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


(Oregon & California Trails) 

To begin this tour on the combined Oregon I California Trail, start at 
U.S.-30 west of Border Junction, Wyoming, on the Wyoming/Idaho 
state line. This segment follows the combined routes of the Oregon 
and California Trails from tour stops A- 1 through A-19. From there 
it follows the Snake River west on the Oregon Trail and concludes at 
the Oregon state line west of Parma, Idaho. 

To begin this tour along the Lander Road route, take WY-89 north 
from Border Junction, Wyoming, and continue north on U.S. -89 
toward Freedom, on the Idaho /Wyoming border. At Freedom, turn 
west on Highway 239/34 into Idaho and continue to Soda Springs. 
Join the main auto tour at stop A-5. 

A-1. Thomas Fork Crossing 
(west of Border Junction, WY) 

was an emigrant ford, but later this 

and another crossing to the north 

were spanned by toll bridges. From 

here, wagons climbed the steep 

hills to the west. Many of the ruts 

they created still are visible on 

the hillsides. An alternate route 

crossed the Bear River about 6 miles southwest of here, keeping to 

the lower lands until the two routes merged again near the foot of Big 

Hill. A state historical sign at a roadside pullout tells the story. 

Directions: Follow U.S.-30 west from the state line for approximately 

1.5 miles. The pullout is on the north side of the road near milepost 

454.5. Look for traces of old wagon roads heading up the slopes to 

the west. 

A-2. Big Hill (southeast of Montpelier, ID) was claimed to be the 
longest, steepest hill on the wagon trail between the Missouri River 
and Fort Hall. The climb up Big Hill (part of the Sheep Creek Hills, 
also called the Preuss Range) was difficult and the descent was steep 
and dangerous. Traces of the trail on the hillsides are visible from the 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

highway. The McAuley Road, a 

cutoff that avoided that climb, was 

blazed in 1852. It followed Sheep 

Creek south around the southern 

point of the Sheep Creek Hills. 
Directions: Continue west on 
U.S. -30 from the Thomas Fork 
pullout for approximately 5 miles 
and stop at a small, unmarked 

shoulder pullout on the north side of the road. The scars of the 
wagon trail wind under the power lines and crest the hillside 
ahead. Continue another 8 miles to a pullout near milepost 441.7, 
where the state has placed historical signs for Big Hill and the 
McAuley Road. Faint traces of the old descent route dive off the 
point of the bluff and follow the ridgeline down to the floor of 
Bear River Valley. This land is privately owned. Please observe the 
trail from the public right-of-way. 

A-3. Smith's Trading Post 
(southeast of Montpelier, ID), 

established by mountain man 

Thomas "Pegleg" Smith, served 

emigrants and gold-rushers in 

1848-49. A state historical sign 

commemorates Smith's post, but 

no structural remains are visible 

and the precise site location is unknown. 
Directions: Continue west from the Big Hill pullout for about 
1.6 miles and watch for the pullout on the south side of U.S. -30 at 
milepost 440.1. Look back toward Big Hill for another view of the 
descent route. 

A-4. The National Oregon/California Trail Center at Clover 
Creek (320 North 4th Street, Montpelier, ID) offers a one-hour 
simulated wagon train trip guided by a wagon master/tour guide. 
The "trip" includes a nighttime camp vignette where trail stories are 
told around a campfire. Forty-four detailed paintings of trail sites 
are exhibited there, as well. The center is located at Clover Creek, 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


an emigrant campground on the 

trail. Open in May, Mon.-Sat. 

10 a.m.-2 p.m.; open Memorial 

Day-Labor Day, Sun.-Thur. 9 

a.m.-5 p.m. and Fri.-Sat. 9 a.m.-6 

p.m. Open by reservation only Oct. 

1-April 30. Admission charged. 

For more information go to www. 

oregontrailcenter . org. 
Directions: Continue west on U.S. -30 into Montpelier. The 
center is on the right at the U.S-30/U.S.-89 junction. 

To detour to the Bear River Massacre National Historic Landmark, 
see the Also of Interest item below. Otherwise, continue west on U.S.- 
30, which follows the original alignment of the combined Oregon! 
California Trail. About 1 7 miles from the Montpelier trail center, 
watch for wagon swales and white trail markers first on the left 
and then on the right side of U.S. -30. An interpretive exhibit with a 
wheelchair- accessible walkway and exhibits is located on the south 
side of the road 22.9 miles from the trail center. From there, continue 
west on U.S.- 30 to Soda Springs at tour stop A- 5. 

Also of Interest: Bear River 
Massacre National Historic 
Landmark. In January 1863, 
California volunteers led by 
Colonel Patrick Edward Connor 
destroyed a winter encampment 
of Shoshone people near today's 
town of Preston, Idaho. Connor 

HV ,; 



'jS^^^^^^^^^^^^^^Fj^_^Ktt'^Kl^ 29kflflH^H 

1. •^.-••.. 



attacked the Bear River village in retribution for Indian raids on trail 
traffic and area settlers. The site is a 1,200-acre National Historic 
Landmark, of which 39 acres are private property owned by the 
Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation. To the Shoshone 
people, this is a sacred site, a place of remembrance and prayer. 
Please observe the site from designated public areas. 
Directions: This detour is a 100-mile loop. From Montpelier, 
follow U.S-89 west to Ovid. Continue west on ID-36 toward 
Preston for 34 miles. Turn south (left) onto ID-34/36 for about 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

5.5 miles. At the junction, turn right onto U.S.-91, heading west 
and then north away from Preston. A roadside pullout with a 
Daughters of Utah Pioneers monument and a state historical 
sign describing events from the victors' point of view is on the 
right about 4 miles from the junction, at U.S. -91 milepost 13. The 
Shoshone village was located in the fields on the opposite side of 
the road. Next, continue north up the hill on U.S. -91. Just past 
milepost 14, turn right into the Point of Interest that overlooks 
the Bear River Valley. This impressive, wheelchair-accessible 
interpretive site provides wayside exhibits that describe events 
from the Shoshone point of view. To rejoin the Auto Tour Route 
at Soda Springs, return to ID-34 (the Pioneer Historic Byway) and 
go north to U.S. -30. There, either turn east and work your way 
back to the many trail sites around Soda Springs (entry A-5 below) 
or turn west and skip to entry A- 10. 

A-5. The Soda Springs (Soda 
Springs, ID) were a favorite 
trailside attraction for road- 
weary emigrants, who marveled 
at the carbonated water and 
Steamboat Spring, a natural geyser 
now submerged in Alexander 
Reservoir. The Soda Springs 

Complex includes several trail sites and landmarks in and around 
Soda Springs: 

Sulphur Springs (5 miles east of Soda Springs, ID) produce a 

rotten-egg odor that aroused the curiosity of emigrants passing 

through the area. At that site in wet years, modern visitors will 

find a shallow lake fed by warm 

springs; in dry years, only 

small puddles and bubbling 

"mudpots" are visible. Bubbles 

created by escaping gas cause the 

odor and make the water appear 

to simmer. Interpretive signs 

tell the geological story. Public 

visitation to this privately owned 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


site is allowed by the landowner. Please respect private property. 
Directions: From the interpretive pullout 22.9 miles west of 
the Montpelier trail center, continue west on U.S. -30 for 2.2 
miles. Turn northeast (right) onto Sulphur Canyon Road, a 
well-maintained gravel road, and drive 1.3 miles. There the 
road splits, with Sulphur Canyon Road turning due east and 
several rough two-tracks fanning out to the north. Visitors 
without high- clearance vehicles should park there and continue 
the remaining distance on foot. Leave Sulphur Canyon Road 
and follow the two-track that bears north-northeast — a small 
sign reading 126 indicates the correct route. The springs and 
interpretive exhibits are 50 to 75 yards ahead and on the right, 
in the wedge of land between Road 126 and Sulphur Canyon 
Road. Next, return to U.S.-30 and continue into Soda Springs. 

Hooper Springs (1 mile 
north of Soda Springs), the 

most famous of the area's soda 

springs, was noted for its cold, 

naturally carbonated water. 

Emigrants added flavorings to 

the water to create natural soda- 
fountain drinks. Today the site is 

a city park where visitors can still 

sample the spring's sparkling water. 
Directions: Enter Soda Springs on westbound U.S.-30. Turn 
north (right) on 3rd Street East and continue for 1.6 miles. On 
approaching a large potash processing plant, turn west (left) 
onto Hooper Road (not Hooper Avenue) and continue about 
0.5 mile to the spring and pavilion on the south side of the road. 
After your visit, return to Soda Springs and turn west (right) 
onto U.S.-30/2nd Street. 

Pyramid Spring (Geyser Park Street, Soda Springs) at Geyser 
Park includes a gray-orange mound — one of the original soda 
springs described by passing emigrants — and a captive geyser 
that erupts every hour on the hour. This "luke-cool" geyser 
was released when drillers seeking hot water for mineral baths 
unintentionally tapped into an artesian well. Now it is a developed 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

site with interpretive exhibits to 
tell the story. From here, visitors 
can walk a 1.7-mile route through 
town along a canal at the end of 
Main Street to Hooper Springs. It 
is a pleasant outdoor walk with a 
potential for viewing wildlife. 

Directions: From westbound 

U.S.-30/2nd Street, turn north 

(right) onto Main Street. Turn left on Geyser Park Street, just 

past the drugstore. The park is just ahead. 

The Wagonbox Grave 
(Fairview Cemetery, Center & 
1st West Streets, Soda Springs) 

is the burial place of an emigrant 

family killed by Indians in 1861. 

An interpretive exhibit and a 

grave marker tell the story. 
Directions: From the geyser 
parking lot, return to Main 

Street and turn south (right). Take the first right onto West 
Center Street. Take the next right into Fairview Cemetery and 
continue past the flagpole and veteran's memorial. About 100 
feet ahead on the right is the grave marker, set between twin 
blue spruces. Return to U.S.-30/2nd Street and turn west. 

The sites of Camp Connor, the 

original Soda Springs town 

site, the Shoshone-Bannock 

Peace Treaty negotiations, 

and a "Morrisite" settlement 

of dissident Latter-day Saints 

(South 3rd West Street, Soda 

Springs) are interpreted by four 

wayside exhibits at a Church 

of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints parking lot. Camp Connor 

was located south of the parking lot; Morristown was west of the 

signs, and some of the original home sites are under the reservoir. 

' " 11^^ II 1 III \^-^^ 

>.»^^^^< l^"! 11 "■ — 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


No ruins are visible. The combined Oregon/California Trail 

passed through the area below the signs. 
Directions: From westbound U.S. -30 in Soda Springs, turn 
south (left) on 3rd West Street and continue about 0.1 mile. 
Enter church parking lot on the right to view the four exhibits 
at the northwest corner of the parking lot. Public access for this 
purpose is permitted by the church. 

A-6. Camp Connor and the 
original Soda Springs town site 
(U.S. -30 west of Soda Springs) 

are described by state historical 
signs along the highway. The actual 
historic sites are about a mile east; 
see entry above. 

Directions: From Soda Springs, 

continue west on U.S.-30. Watch 

for the pullout on the left at milepost 403.8. 

A- 7. Oregon Trail Park and 
Marina (U.S. -30 west of Soda 
Springs) includes a short segment 
of original wagon swale that 
crosses the entrance road. White 
posts mark the trail; interpretive 
exhibits that tell the story are 
awaiting installation. 

Directions: From the Camp 

Connor pullout, continue west on U.S. -30 for about 1.4 miles, 

paralleling Alexander Reservoir. The park is on south side of road 

at about milepost 402.4. 

West of Soda Springs, the emigrant trail splits three ways. One fork, 
blazed by John BidwelVs 1841 wagon train to California, turns 
south and follows the Bear River into Utah, This difficult route rarely 
was used by later emigrants and is not part of the National Trails 
System. A second fork, the route of the combined Oregon/California 
Trail, continues northwest to Fort Hall and then turns west to follow 
the Snake River. The auto tour temporarily leaves this main trail to 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

follow the third fork, the Hudspeth Cutoff, which angles southwest 
toward Nevada and California. The tour rejoins the combined 
Oregon /California Trail at Pocatello. 

A- 8. An Idaho interpretive site 
(U.S. -30 west of Soda Springs) 

has state historical signs and 
interpretive waysides addressing 
several trail topics, including the 
routes used by the first emigrant 
wagon train to cross the west. 
That wagon train split up near 
this location, with one group 

continuing to Oregon and the other turning south toward the Great 
Salt Lake and, eventually, California. Other topics include local 
geology, the Hudspeth Cutoff (an arduous shortcut to California), 
and Sheep Rock (later called Soda Point and Alexander Point), a local 
trail landmark at the west end of Alexander Reservoir. 
Directions: From Oregon Trail Park and Marina, continue 
west on U.S.-30 for about 2.5 miles. Turn left into the Idaho 
Transportation Department parking lot and follow the green 
Historical Site signs to the interpretive area. Note: These exhibits 
are being relocated to a new kiosk on public lands 300 yards west 
of the transportation facility. 

Return to U.S. -30 and continue west past Sheep Rock. From there, 
continue the auto tour west along the Hudspeth Cutoff (tour stop 
A-9) toward 1-15, OR make a 35-mile detour north to historic 
Chesterfield on the combined Oregon /California Trail. 

Also of Interest: Chesterfield 
Historic District. Chesterfield 
once was a thriving Mormon 
community, established directly 
on the Oregon Trail in 1879 — a 
decade after most emigrant wagon 
traffic had ended. Today the town 
is a historic district listed on the 
National Register of Historic 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


Places. The district includes a museum operated by the Daughters 
of the Utah Pioneers (open Memorial Day-Labor Day, Mon.-Sat. 10 
a.m.-6 p.m.) and 27 historic buildings in various stages of restoration. 
Guided tours of the town site are available in the summer; all 
buildings are closed in winter. Admission to Chesterfield is free, but 
donations are accepted. 
Directions: To follow this 35-mile loop on maintained gravel 
roads, go west on U.S. -30 from stop A-8 for about 1.5 miles. Turn 
right onto Old Highway 30, which shortly turns to the northwest, 
and continue for 10 miles. After entering the town of Bancroft, 
turn right onto North Main Street, which becomes Main Avenue 
and then Chesterfield Road. Continue 10 miles into Chesterfield. 
Interpretive waysides are located behind the museum and just 
beyond the fence. Walk or drive up the access road to see them. 

To resume the auto tour on the Hudspeth Cutoff, return to Bancroft. 
Cross the railroad tracks and turn east (left) at the post office onto 
South Main Street I Old Highway 30, then go 1 block and turn south 
(right) onto 1st Avenue. Continue through town; the street becomes 
Lund Road. Follow Lund south to U.S. -30 and turn west. 

A-9. The Hudspeth Cutoff (U.S.- 

30), a difficult shortcut used by 

Forty-niners rushing to California, 

is interpreted by a state historical 

sign on U.S.-30. The cutoff, which 

crossed four difficult ridges and 

a 22-mile desert, was only about 

25 miles shorter than the primary 

trail through Fort Hall. Few trail 

remnants are visible, as U.S.-30 was constructed over the wagon road. 
Directions: Go west from Soda Springs on U.S.-30. About 0.5- 
mile west of the turnoff to Old Highway 30 (controlled by a 
blinking yellow light), look on both sides of the road for two low 
volcanic cones. These often were described in emigrant journals. 
For a closer look, turn into the dirt access road leading to the 
cinder cone on the south (left) side of the road; an interpretive 
exhibit there tells the story. Continue west on U.S.-30. A pullout 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

with information about the Hudspeth Cutoff is on the south side 
of the road at milepost 376.2, about 17 miles west of Soda Springs. 

A- 10. Lava Hot Springs (Town of Lava Hot Springs, ID) was a 

welcome rest stop for travelers along the Hudspeth Cutoff. Popularly 
known as Dempsey's Bathtub, the springs provided hot water 
for bathing and washing clothing. A state historical sign along the 
highway tells the story. The main hot springs area is now operated 
by the state of Idaho as a public facility; other springs are privately 
operated as a guest spa and resort. 
Directions: Approaching town on U.S.-30, bear left onto Main 
Street, which parallels the highway. Continue 1 block; the publicly 
operated hot springs facility is on the right, before the river. Also, 
a historical overlook of the springs area is located on U.S. -30 at 
milepost 333 on the south side of the highway, about 100 yards 
beyond the turnoff into Lava Hot Springs. 

Continue west on U.S. -30 to McCammon, then take 1-15 north 
to Pocatello. Here the auto tour rejoins the combined Oregon! 
California Trail along the Snake River. 

A-11. Fort Hall Replica Museum 
(3002 Alvord Loop, Upper Level 
Ross Park, Pocatallo, ID) is a 

full-size replica of the original 
Fort Hall, established in 1834 as 
a fur trade post. The fort later 
served emigrants as a supply post 
on the long road to Oregon and 
California, and eventually fell to 

ruin. The replica was built off-site in the 1960s to commemorate the 
area's history. Structures and artifacts are on exhibit. The replica is 
open mid- April until Memorial Day weekend, Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m.-2 
p.m.; Memorial Day-Labor Day, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily; and September, 
Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Closed winters. Admission charged. 
Directions: From 1-15 northbound, take Exit 67 (1-15 Business 
Loop) toward Pocatello. At the end of the exit, turn left onto the 
business loop and enter the left lane. Take the first left, about 0.7 
mile from the exit, onto the Avenue of Chiefs and drive up the hill. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


Signs to the museum, the Pocatello Zoo, the Ross Park Aquatic 
Complex, and the Bannock County Museum guide the way. 

A- 12. Bannock County 
Historical Museum (3000 
Alvord Loop, Pocatello) exhibits 
Shoshone and Bannock Indian 
items. Open Memorial Day-Labor 
Day, daily, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; winters, 
Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Modest 
admission charged. 

Directions: Next door to Fort 

Hall Replica Museum. 

From here, you have three options: 

To continue west along the combined Oregon! California Trail, 

return to northbound 1-15 through Pocatello and turn west on 
1-86 toward American Falls. Skip to entry A-1 5 for further driving 

Togo to the town of Fort Hall and associated sites on Shoshone- 
Bannock lands, about 25 miles north of the Fort Hall Replica 
Museum, take 1-15 north and follow directions for entries A- 13 and 
A- 14 below. From Fort Hall, either return to Pocatello and continue 
west on 1-86 to tour stop A-1 5, OR follow the Goodale Cutoff. 

To follow the Goodale Cutoff, take 1-15 north from Fort Hall and 
follow the driving directions in the Also of Interest item following 
entry A-1 4. 

A-13. Shoshone-Bannock Tribal 
Museum (Simplot Road, Fort 
Hall, ID) exhibits objects from 
the Shoshone and Bannock Indian 
Tribes and provides information 
about tribal history. Open June- 
Aug., daily, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sept 
-May, Mon.-Fri. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. 
Modest admission charged. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

Directions: Fort Hall is about halfway between Pocatello and 
Blackfoot, Idaho. From Pocatello, take 1-15 north to Exit 80 at the 
Fort Hall Indian Reservation. Turn west (left) at the end of the 
exit onto Ross Fork Road. The museum is on the south side of the 
Trading Post Complex, less than a mile from the freeway exit and 
about 2 miles east of the town of Fort Hall. 

A- 14. The Site of Old Fort Hall, the Ross Fork Trail Segment, 
and the Lander Road Ruts (Fort Hall, ID) are located within the 
boundaries of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. Guided tours of trail 
sites on the reservation are available for a modest fee, and must be 
arranged directly with the Shoshone Bannock Tribes. To request a 
tour, call the Shoshone-Bannock Museum at (208) 237-9791. Do not 
explore reservation lands without permission. 

From Fort Hall, return to Pocatello via 1-15 south and take Exit 72 
to 1-86 west, toward American Falls; OR take 1-15 north and follow 
the Goodale Cutoff (see Also of Interest item below). 

Also of Interest: The Goodale 
Cutoff and Craters of the 
Moon National Monument and 
Preserve. The Goodale Cutoff 
splits from the combined Oregon/ 
California Trail at Fort Hall, turns 
west at Big Lost River, passes 
through Craters of the Moon 
National Monument and Preserve, 

and rejoins the Oregon Trail east of Boise. Interpretive exhibits are 
at various locations along U.S.-20. Exhibits at overlooks near the 
Craters of the Moon entrance and an exhibit in the park visitor center 
detail journal entries of emigrants who took this alternate route along 
the edge of the lava lands. White markers visible along the highway 
and a state historical marker show the approximate location of the 
trail. This 230-mile side-trip bypasses all Oregon/California Trail 
sites along the Snake River between Pocatello and Mountain Home. 
Start this trip with a full tank of gas and a supply of food and water, as 
services may be scarce along the route. Also, some roads may be closed 
in winter due to snow. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


Directions: From Fort Hall, return to 1-15 northbound to 
Blackfoot. There take Exit 93 to U.S. -26 west and Craters of the 
Moon National Monument. Ahead to the right, two volcanic 
domes rise above the Snake River plain. These "Twin Buttes" 
were landmarks for emigrants traveling along the cutoff. A third 
prominence in the distance. Big Southern Butte, was also a key 
landmark because a spring at its base was the first reliable water 
source on the route beyond the Snake River at Fort Hall. About 
34 miles west of Blackfoot, turn left onto U.S.-26/20 and continue 
west through Arco. About 18 miles west of Arco is the entrance to 
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, with lava 
fields and cinder cones that were observed by passing emigrants. 

From there, continue west on U.S.-26/20 to Mountain Home, 
To resume the drive along Auto Tour Segment A from Mountain 
Home, go west on 1-84 and skip to entry A-29; OR to join the South 
Alternate of the Oregon Trail route, go east on 1-84 to Glenns Ferry 
and skip to Auto Tour Segment B on page 78. 

A- 15. American Falls (Falls 
Avenue, American Falls, ID) was 

a series of cataracts, often noted 

by passing emigrants, where the 

Snake River drops about 50 feet 

in elevation. A dam built at the 

site has submerged some of the 

cataracts, but the lowest ones still 

are visible. A 1937 monument 

commemorates the trail, which ran along the south bank of the river 

and now lies beneath the reservoir. 
Directions: From 1-86, take Exit 40 and turn right on the business 
loop into American Falls. Where the road splits, continue straight 
on Pocatello Avenue, which parallels the freeway. Cross Hillcrest 
Avenue and continue to the intersection with Bannock Avenue. 
Follow the curve of the main road northwest past a city park. 
Two blocks after the intersection, turn south (left) onto Fort 
Hall Avenue and continue 6 blocks. Just past the golf course, the 
road curves south and becomes Lincoln Street. Drive 2 more 
blocks to Falls Avenue, turn west (right), and continue 0.7 mile 





Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

to a viewpoint and monument above the falls. From the south 
side of the parking lot near the power complex, follow a path 
and stairs to some shady overlook and picnic areas; or to access 
the river and overlooks from below, drive back up Falls Avenue 1 
block, turn right onto Valdez Street, and follow the "Sportsman's 
Access" signs to the Oregon Trail River Access. Camping (no 
hookups), toilet facilities, and a boat launch are available there, 
and the gravel path along the river offers opportunities to observe 

Return to Falls Avenue, turn east (right), and continue 9 blocks to 
Lincoln Street/Business Loop 1-86. Turn south (right) onto Lincoln to 
return to westbound 1-86. 

A- 16. Snake River Overlook 

and Oregon Trail Interpretive 

Rest Stop (west of American 

Falls) offers a fine view of the 

river, a pleasant walking path 

with interpretive exhibits about 

this stretch of trail, and original 

wagon ruts (listed on the National 

Register of Historic Places) to 

explore. Indians, possibly in collaboration with white men, attacked 

two wagon trains in this area in August 1862. 
Directions: The rest stop is located along westbound 1-86 at 
milepost 31 about 5 miles southwest of American Falls. This rest 
stop is not accessible from eastbound lanes, but the associated trail 
ruts also can be approached from Massacre Rocks State Park, a 
couple miles farther east (see entry A-1 7). Enter the rest stop and 
drive south past the restrooms and down the loop drive to the 
kiosk with interpretive exhibits. Park there and walk down the 
paved trail about 0.5 mile to the Snake River overlook. Turn left 
and follow the trail under both lanes of the freeway. Follow the 
trail to the right and continue to a series of interpretive wayside 
exhibits on trail history. Deep wagon ruts lie beyond the exhibits. 
Continue along the footpaths to see more trail remnants. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


A- 17. Massacre Rocks State 
Park (west of American Falls) 

preserves some deep trail ruts 
that can be approached via a 
paved path at the end of Park 
Lane, northeast of the visitor 
center. The visitor center itself 
has trail exhibits and interpretive 
panels about the w^agon trails and 

the emigrant-Indian skirmishes that occurred in this area. Wayside 
exhibits along various interpretive trails teach about the geology, plant 
life, and history of the area. The park also offers 7.5 miles of hiking 
trails, biking, wildlife viewing and bird-watching opportunities, 
river access for boating and fishing, and a 42 -site campground with 
hookups. Park grounds are open year-round. The visitor center is 
open May 1-mid-October, daily, 8, and open irregular 
hours during other months, depending on staff availability. Admission 
to the park and Register Rock historic site (below) is $4/vehicle. 
Directions: From 1-86, take Exit 28 and turn right at the end of 
the ramp onto Register Road. Take the next right (heading east) 
onto Park Lane and continue into the park. To access the paved 
trail leading to the wagon ruts, continue northeast past the visitor 
center to the parking area at the end of Park Lane. 

A- 18. Register Rock State 

Historic Site (2 miles west 

of Massacre Rocks), part of 

Massacre Rocks State Park, was 

an emigrant campground where 

travelers inscribed their names 

on basalt boulders. The largest of 

these boulders is now sheltered 

by a pavilion, with other inscribed 

rocks nearby. The site, which is a National Register property, includes 

a picnic area and a nearby corral for visitors traveling with horses. 
Directions: Return to Register Road, turn left, and cross over 
the freeway. Follow signs 2 miles to the park. Pay admission at 
Massacre Rocks State Park. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

There are two ways to return to the freeway. The closest on-ramp 
is east of Register Rock, requiring some backtracking. To get to 
this ramp, exit the Register Rock Historic Site and turn right onto 
Register Road. The road crosses to the south side of the freeway and 
then leads back to the 1-86 on-ramp. To avoid backtracking, turn left 
(west) onto Register Road, which curves south to cross beneath the 
freeway. Continue west for about 6 miles. Turn right at the stop sign 
and proceed to westbound 1-86. 

A-19. The Raft River Crossing 
and Parting of the Ways (west 
of American Falls) is where the 
combined Oregon/California Trail 
splits, with Oregon emigrants 
continuing west and California- 
bound travelers turning southwest 
toward Nevada. A roadside 
monument with an interpretive 
plaque tells the story. The Raft River is now an irrigation ditch and 
trail remnants are not visible or accessible from this monument site 
because of intervening private property. However, public lands to the 
west provide access to 7 miles of original wagon ruts and swales — see 
entry A-20. 
Directions: From 1-86, take Exit 15 (Raft River Exit), about 
11.5 miles west of Register Rock. At the end of the exit, set your 
vehicle's trip odometer and turn south (left) onto Yale Road, 
following the "Raft River Area" directional sign. Cross under the 
freeway and continue south past the Raft River Sod Farm. Where 
the road curves to the east 1.7 miles from the freeway exit, look on 
the left for a white fence and stone monument located at the edge 
of a farm complex. 

To skip this wayside and go directly to the associated trail rut, take 
Exit 15, turn south and go under the freeway, and then turn right 
(west) onto the frontage road along the south side of 1-86. See entry 
A-20 for further directions. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


A-20. Raft River Parting of the WF^^ mHi^l 

Ways Trail Segment (east of 1-84 ^fepMIHC^ ^^^^^^M 

and 1-86 junction). The Bureau ^F^ jUml^? || 

of Land Management has kept ^P^^^^^^H^^ ^s^B 

this 7-mile segment of original Wt_ ^^^H I > ^UgH 

wagon trail looking much as it ^HlHF^^^* '^ ^ .^JH^^^I 

did during the covered wagon ^^^^^^^^^^^ *^9^^^^^1 

days. Explore the ruts on foot or |||HHR[^^HhhHI|[||^I^H 
horseback; motorized vehicles are 

not permitted. The actual parting of the ways junction is on adjacent 
private property. Please do not trespass. 
Directions: Reaching the public entrance to this trail segment 
requires driving nearly 10 miles on unsigned, maintained gravel 
roads. From the Parting of the Ways monument, go north back 
toward 1-86 and turn west (left) onto the paved frontage road 
along the south side of the freeway. The road parallels the freeway 
for about a mile, then turns north and passes beneath 1-86. Set 
your vehicle's trip odometer here. Continue west on the paved 
road for 4 miles, watching ahead to the left for livestock pens. 
Make a 90-degree left turn onto an unsigned, unpaved county 
road that heads due south, past the pens, toward the freeway. In 
about 2.5 miles, cross beneath 1-86 again and continue south for 
another 2.9 miles. As the reflective roof of a large agricultural 
building comes into view on the right, look for a sign kiosk and 
trail posts on the left (east) side of the road. These mark the 
entrance to the trail segment. 

Continue south on the gravel road toward the mountains for 2 miles 
to a T intersection. Turn west (right) onto 100 South/Yale Road and 
continue about 1.5 miles to 1-84. Here you have some choices: 

Togo directly to Utah and follow the Pony Express Trail and 
the Hastings Cutoff (the Donner Party route) of the California 
National Historic Trail, enter the eastbound lanes of 1-84 toward 
Salt Lake City. Consult the Auto Tour Route Guide Across Utah for 
further driving directions. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

To return to 1-86 and resume the trail tour across Idaho, enter 
the westbound lanes of 1-84. Merge onto westbound 1-86/84 toward 
Declo. From Decloyou can: 

continue west along the Oregon National Historic Trail 
Leave 1-84 at Exit 208, and turn left onto the business loop! 
Overland Avenue south toward Burley. About 1.5 miles from the 
freeway exit, bear right on a long curve onto Bedke Boulevard, 
with a directional sign to U.S.- 30 west. In another 1.5 miles, 
Bedke curves south and crosses a railroad track. At the next 
intersection, bear right onto U.S.-30 west. See entry A-21 for 
further directions. 

leave 1-84 at Exit 216 and take an 86-mile loop trip to visit 
California National Historic Trail sites at City of Rocks National 
Reserve. See the Also of Interest entry below. 

Also of Interest: City of Rocks 
National Reserve and Visitor 
Center. This is an 86-mile loop trip 
on paved and maintained gravel 
roads called the City of Rocks Back 
Country Byway. City of Rocks is 
a scenic area of towering granite 
pinnacles, thought by some 
emigrants to resemble a "silent 

city." The reserve is designated as both a National Natural Landmark 
and a National Historic Landmark. Traffic on the Hudspeth Cutoff, 
travelers returning to the California Trail via the Salt Lake Cutoff, and 
wagons that took the California road at the Raft River Parting of the 
Ways all funneled through this area — which was a preferred hunting 
ground of the Shoshone and Bannock Indians. Several attacks on 
wagon trains occurred in this area, but the sites are not marked or 
interpreted. The reserve's visitor center in Almo offers an outdoor 
covered wagon exhibit, a bookstore, and travel brochures. The visitor 
center is open April 1-Oct. 31, daily, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Nov. 1-March 
31, Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Closed winter holidays. The park 
offers hiking and camping opportunities. Trail resources there include 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


immigrant inscriptions and wagon ruts with interpretive waysides. 

Day-use is free; for camping fee information and reservations call 

1-866-634-3246. The park is open to visitors all hours year-round, but 

roads may be impassable in the winter. 
Directions: From 1-84 Exit 216, go south on ID-77 through Declo 
and Albion to Connor Junction, where the highway makes a sharp 
turn to the east. Leave ID-77 at that point, and turn west (right) 
onto Elba-Almo Road. Continue 16 miles, staying on this road, 
to Almo. The visitor center is on the left side of the road on the 
south side of town. To continue to the reserve, go south to the 
next intersection beyond the visitor center. (Note the Trails West 
marker immediately on the south side of the intersection after 
making the turn.) Turn west (right) and follow signs to City of 

Watch for the following trail stops along the road through the 

Camp Rock, a granite outcrop, served as a shelter and a "bulletin 
board" where emigrants recorded their names. Pullout is 
about 1.3 miles past the entrance, on the left side of the road. 
Walk through the pedestrian gate at the left side of the rock. 
Interpretive waysides and inscriptions are on the opposite side. 

Treasure Rock, another emigrant stopping place with 
inscriptions. Pullout is 0.3 miles beyond Camp Rock and on the 
right side of the road. Interpretive waysides are located on the 
west side of the rock. A Trails West marker describes the trail on 
the east side of Treasure Rock near the road. Continue along the 
drive and turn south (left) at the intersection. 

Register Rock, another inscription site, is 0.6 mile beyond 
Treasure Rock, on the left side of the road. No on-site 

At Pinnacle Pass the trail threaded a narrow gap between two 
rock outcrops. The pullout is 0.5 mile beyond Register Rock on 
the right side of the road. An interpretive wayside tells the story. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

A Trails West marker shows where the wagon trail crosses the 
road. The marker is on the left, 0.1 mile beyond the Pinnacle Pass 

The Twin Sisters are 

two distinctive geological 

formations often noted by 

passing emigrants. They are 

west of the road; stop at the 

campground and restrooms to 

view them from here. About 

1.5 miles farther south is a 

pullout with wayside exhibits 

that interpret both the Twin Sisters and the Salt Lake Cutoff. The 

junction where the cutoff merged with the main trail is a short 

distance from this pullout, and the site of a stagecoach station 

is nearby. From here, watch for white posts that mark trail swale 

along the south side of the road. 

Granite Pass, where the California Trail briefly enters Utah and 
then crosses into Nevada, lies to the southwest. The pullout is 1.3 
miles beyond the Twin Sisters pullout, on the south side of the 
road. The pass itself is about 6 miles distant. 

To return from City of Rocks to Segment A of the auto tour, continue 
west along the unpaved road. About 1.3 miles beyond the Granite 
Pass pullout, turn north (right) at the intersection and continue 
toward Oakley on Birch Creek Road. At Oakley, Birch Creek Road 
swings west and merges onto Main Street. Go west for 5 blocks 
on Main, then turn north (right) onto Center Street IID-27 . Watch 
for the City of Rocks state historical sign at 0. 7 mile from the turn. 
Continue north 20 miles to Burley. At Burley, ID-27 becomes 
Overland Avenue. Turn west (left) on Main Street lU.S. -30, and 
proceed to site A-21 below. It is 5 miles from the turn onto U.S.-30 to 
the next turn onto 500 West. 

A-21. The Milner Ruts (west of Burley, ID) lie within the 
Milner Historic Recreation Area, managed by the Bureau of Land 
Management. The site, used by emigrants as a campground, offers 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


a segment of original wagon 

trail with interpretive exhibits, 

a pavilion with more exhibits, 

picnicking, a boat launch, wildlife 

viewing, and toilet facilities. 

Entrance $3/vehicle. 
Directions: About 4 miles west 
of Burley, where U.S.-30 begins 
to swing to the left, look on the 

right for a Bureau of Land Management directional sign to the 
Milner Recreation Area. The turnoff is on the right (north) near 
the middle of the U.S.-30 curve. Turn north (right) there onto 500 
West and, following a second directional sign, make an immediate 
left onto West Milner Road. About 2 miles farther, the road curves 
90-degrees to the south and the pavement ends. In about 0.4 mile, 
the road splits; bear southwest (right), staying on Milner Road. A 
Bureau of Land Management sign for the historic recreation area 
marks the turn. About 2.7 miles beyond the split, Milner Road 
angles slightly northwest and begins to converge with the Eastern 
Idaho railroad track. Just before reaching the track, where the 
road bends slightly to the southwest, look on the right for another 
sign and the entrance to the historic recreation area. Turn right 
and cross the railroad tracks to enter the site. 

From here, either go to Milner Dam and Cauldron Linn (see the Also 
of Interest item below) or return to westbound U.S.-30 and proceed 
to tour stop A-22. 

Also of Interest: Milner Dam and Caldron Linn. These sites 
relate primarily to the fur trade of the early 19th century, but 
they shed some light on why the emigrants did not trade in their 
slow, cumbersome wagons for boats upon reaching the Snake 
River. On October 28, 1811, a party of westbound Astorians (fur 
traders employed by John Jacob Astor of the Pacific Fur Company) 
encountered a series of rapids while canoeing down the Snake River. 
About 1.5 miles below the present Milner Dam, one of the dugout 
canoes struck a rock and capsized, resulting in the loss of one man, 
the canoe, and a boatload of gear. (In 1939, a fisherman recovered 
from the river bottom several beaver traps, axes, muskets, and a rifle, 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

evidently the canoe's lost cargo. 

The artifacts are exhibited at the 

Idaho State Historical Museum 

in Boise.) Farther downstream, 

the Snake River drops into a 

"caldron" of whirling water that 

the Astorians dubbed Caldron 

Linn. There the group abandoned 

its remaining dugouts and split up, 

with one party continuing west 

on a route that would become the 

Oregon Trail. Some later emigrants 

on that trail stopped to visit the 

well-known site. Milner Dam has 

reduced the river's flow, but the 

caldron is still impressive. The 

dam is easily accessible; the road 

off the bluff down to the caldron, 

however, is rough and steep. Entry 

to both sites is free. 
Directions: On exiting the Milner Historic Recreation Area, turn 
west (right) onto Milner Road, continue 1 mile west, and turn 
north (right) to cross the tracks. Take an immediate left on the 
paved road, 3610 North, then turn right and cross the canal. Upon 
leaving the bridge, make an immediate right and follow the road 
to the parking area and the monument and pavilion at Milner 

After your visits cross back over the bridge and make an immediate 
right onto the paved road. Follow the pavement around a 90-degree 
turn to the south and back across the tracks. Go straight (south) at 
the four-way stop and continue south to the next stop sign. Turn west 
(right) onto U.S. -30. 

The unpaved approach to the Snake River overlook above Caldron 
Linn might be rough and could require a high clearance vehicle. The 
Bureau of Land Management recommends four-wheel drive for the 
final half-mile descent to the river. The road from the overlook to the 
river can be hiked, instead. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


If not continuing to Caldron Linn, skip to site entry A-22. Otherwise, 
after about 5 miles on U.S. -30 from Milner Dam, cross a large canal 
and turn north (right) onto 4625 East. Continue across the railroad 
tracks about 0.7 mile ahead. Bear west (left) at the end of the road 
onto 3425 North and follow the road along the canyon rim to a Y 
intersection. The roads here are unsigned. Bear right, descend into 
the canyon, and set your vehicle's trip odometer at the bridge. Cross 
the Snake River and climb the switchbacks out of the canyon. About 
1.2 miles beyond the bridge, turn east (right) onto 1500 South, a good 
unpaved road with a Bureau of Land Management sign at the turn. 
About a mile beyond that is a Bureau of Land Management sign to 
Caldron Linn. Turn south (right) there and continue to the canyon 
rim. The Bureau of Land Management recommends that only four- 
wheel-drive vehicles continue down to the river; otherwise, park at 
the overlook and hike down to the river. At the canyon floor, follow 
the main road around the hairpin turn to the left and enter the first 
parking area on the right. A network of footpaths spreads out in 
various directions; to find a path to the caldron, follow the roar of 
water. Children must be closely supervised here, as rough footpaths 
run along the unprotected rim of the river gorge. From here, return to 
U.S. -30 and continue west to Rock Creek. 

A-22. Rock Creek (Strieker) 

Store and Stage Station (north 

of Rock Creek, ID) was a busy 

place on the Oregon Trail, with 

a farm, trading post, jail, stage 

station, saloon, cemetery, and a 

community of Chinese laborers 

adding to the bustle of trail 

traffic. The site also was a popular 

emigrant campground. Today the National Register property, also 

known as the Strieker Store and Homesite, is managed by the Idaho 

State Historical Society and the Friends of Strieker Ranch, Inc. The 

site is open daily for self-guided tours; the historic farmhouse is open 

April 1-Oct. 31, Sundays only, 1-5 p.m. Free. 
Directions: South of Murtaugh, U.S. -30 begins a wide sweep to 
the northwest. Leave the highway there, continuing due west onto 
3300 North. In about 2.5 miles, the road ends at an intersection. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

Turn south (left) onto 4200 Road East and drive 1 mile, then turn 
west (right) onto 3200 North. Continue west approximately 5 
miles to the Rock Creek/Strieker Site. The pullout, on the left, 
looks like a ranch entrance and the site sign is parallel to the road. 
Park at the entrance and continue on foot through the unlocked 
gate. To return to U.S. -30, turn east (right) onto 3200 Road, 
then turn north (left) onto Road G-3 at the next intersection. At 
Hansen, continue west on U.S. -30. 

A-23. Shoshone Falls (east of 
Twin Falls, ID) was not directly 
on the Oregon Trail, but travelers 
could hear the water's roar in the 
distance and sometimes would 
hike out to the river to find the 
source of the noise. Today the 
"Niagara of the West" is the site 
of a city park and of one of Idaho 
Power's hydroelectric plants. Shoshone Falls is most impressive 
during high water in late spring and early summer, but is nearly dry 
the rest of the year. The falls can be viewed free from an overlook 
above the river; admission to the park below is $3/vehicle. Hiking 
trails, playgrounds, and picnicking, swimming, and boating facilities 
are available. The park is open year-round, daily, 7 a.m.-lO pm. 
Directions: At Kimberly, U.S.-30 swings north and then jogs west 
again. At the second intersection past the jog, turn north (right) 
onto 3300 East, indicated by signs to Shoshone Falls. Continue 
north about 3 miles to the park entrance. 

A-24. The Herrett Center for Arts & Sciences (315 Falls Avenue, 
College of Southern Idaho, Twin Falls) offers displays on the 
prehistoric lifeways of American Indians of south-central Idaho, 
including an exhibit about prehistoric Native American fishing 
techniques used on the Snake River. The museum is open Tues.-Fri. 
9:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Wed.-Thur. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and Saturdays 1 
p.m.-9 p.m. Closed Sundays, Mondays, and federal hoUdays. Free. 
Directions: From Shoshone Falls, take U.S. -30 west into Twin 
Falls and follow Auto Tour Route signs to U.S.-93/Blue Lakes 
Boulevard. Turn north (right) and drive through town to North 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


College Road. Turn west (left) and drive 0.5 mile to the Herrett 
Center. Free parking is available in front of the center. 

Also of Interest: Buzz Langdon 

Visitor Information Center 

(Blue Lakes Boulevard North, 

Twin Falls), Perrine Memorial 

Bridge, and Snake River Canyon 

Viewpoint. The center is a good 

place to pick up travel information 

and view the spectacular Snake 

River Canyon. This is where 

daredevil Evel Knievel tried to jump the canyon on a rocket-powered 

motorcycle in 1974. Today's visitors to this spot can sometimes watch 

BASE-jumpers leap from the Perrine Memorial Bridge and descend 

with parachutes nearly 500 feet to the river. The view from the 

canyon overlook makes clear the problems and frustrations faced by 

emigrants traveling along the Snake: plenty of water in sight, but often 


Directions: From the Herrett Center, go east back to Blue Lakes 
Boulevard. Turn north (left) and continue through town. After 
crossing Pole Line Road at the north edge of Twin Falls, U.S.-93 
curves broadly to the right. Near the center of that curve, turn left 
onto a side street that is also named Blue Lakes Boulevard and 
watch for signs to the visitor information center. 

To continue west along the Oregon Trail, see entry A-25 below; OR 
to pick up the California Trail across Nevada, take U.S.- 30 to Curry 
and turn south on U.S.-93. From Wells, Nevada, the California Trail 
auto tour follows 1-80. Consult the Auto Tour Route interpretive 
guides for Nevada and Calif ornia for more information. 

A-25. Thousand Springs (west of Twin Falls) is an area where 
countless cataracts once burst from the rimrock and cascaded down 
to the Snake River. The water originates in mountains to the north 
and flows into the Big and Little Lost Rivers, which in turn disappear 
into desert "sinks." The flow continues underground and emerges at 
Thousand Springs. Despite modern diversions of the water, many of 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

these waterfalls still exist, visible 

from the highway as white streaks 

against dark vegetation. The area 

is now a state park, which can 

be approached from 1-84 on the 

north side of the river. 
Directions: From Twin Falls, 
continue west on Addison 
Avenue/U.S.-30. The road 

becomes 1000 Springs Scenic Byway. Continue west through 
Buhl. About 3 miles beyond Buhl the highway turns north and 
continues toward the Snake River. A pullout with state historical 
signs about Thousand Springs and Salmon Falls (where emigrants 
could trade for salmon with the Indians) is on the left at milepost 
186.9. The springs, visible from U.S.-30, are along the north rim of 
the canyon. 

A-26. Hagerman Fossil Beds 

National Monument (west of 

Hagerman, ID) claims the highest 

concentration of Pliocene fossils in 

the world — as well as some Oregon 

Trail ruts. The monument is open 

daily, all hours. The visitor center 

at Hagerman, on the north side of 

the river, is open Memorial Day 

weekend-Aug. 25, daily, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; otherwise open Thurs.-Mon. 9 

a.m.-5 p.m. except for holidays. Free. 
Directions: From the Thousand Springs pullout, continue north 
on U.S.-30 toward the Snake River. Immediately before U.S.- 
30 crosses the river, take the road to the left. Bell Rapids Road. 
Stay on this road as it continues west, paralleling the river. As it 
approaches the monument, the road splits: bear left and continue 
into the monument. Park at the Snake River Overlook on the right 
(about 4 miles from the Thousand Springs pullout) and cross the 
road to reach a gravel path and observation point with interpretive 
signs. The ruts are visible in the valley below. For a closer look 
and more information, continue along the path. Then return to 
your vehicle and continue up the hill, watching for trail ruts on 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


the left. Drive about 2.7 miles to the Oregon Trail Overlook (with 
restroom) on the left. Take the path out toward the point; the 
gully on the right is the Oregon Trail, now deeply eroded. After 
your visit, turn around and return to U.S-30. Turn left and cross 
the Snake River on the highway bridge. Continue into Hagerman. 
The visitor center is on the right at U.S.-30/North State and Reed 
Streets, near the center of town. 

A-27. Hagerman Valley Historical Society Museum (100 South 
State Street, Hagerman), located in historic Hagerman Bank, 
exhibits fossils and trail-related artifacts. Donations accepted. Open 
year-round, Wed.-Sun., 1 p.m.- 4 p.m. 
Directions: From the Hagerman Fossil Beds Visitor Center, go 1 
block south on State Street. The museum on the southwest corner 
of State and Main Streets. 

From the monument, the Oregon Trail continues northwest toward 
Glenns Ferry, cutting between bends in the river. Today that area 
is roadless. This auto tour follows modern highways along the 
north side of the Snake River to the old wagon ford at Three Island 

Also of Interest: Malad Gorge 
State Park (1074 E. 2350 S., 
east of Hagerman). This park 
showcases a 140-foot wide, 250- 
foot deep river gorge, which can 
be viewed from rimrock trails. 
A slender pedestrian bridge 
provides an eagle's view of Devil's 
Washbowl falls. An alternate 
Oregon Trail route crossed Malad 
River about 0.5 mile upstream, 
above the deep canyon. Public 
campsites are available at the park, 
which is open year-round, 7 a.m.- 
10 p.m. Entrance $4/car; camping 
fees separate. 
Directions: From Hagerman, 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

continue north on U.S. -30 past the junction with Pioneer Road 
on the left to the four- way intersection with 2525 South. Turn east 
(right) onto 2525 South. The road splits a short distance ahead; 
bear north (left) onto Justice Grade. The road makes a series of 
sharp turns and then continues east, becoming 2500 South. At 
the intersection with 1100 East, turn north (left) and follow the 
road to its end. Turn west (left) onto 2350 South and enter Malad 
Gorge State Park. Follow signs to Devil's Washbowl. This park is 
also easily accessible via 1-84 Exit 147. 

Continue through the park to its east entrance. Turn south (right) 
onto Ritchie Road and follow signs to westbound 1-84. 

The main route of the Oregon Trail intercepts the Snake River at 
Three Island Crossing, near the town ofGlenns Ferry. This was 
another decision point for the emigrants. They could risk fording 
the swift, deep Snake River here (the ferry was not established until 
1869) and continue west along the north side, where there was better 
grass and easier access to water. This decision, however, committed 
travelers to a second crossing of the Snake River at Fort Boise. 

Alternatively, they could avoid both crossings by staying on the south 
side and using a variant known as the South Alternate of the Oregon 
Trail. This route was barren, dry, and difficult. Some well-publicized 
Indian attacks on emigrant wagon trains occurred on both routes in 
the 1850s and '60s. 

A-28. Three Island Crossing 
State Park (Glenns Ferry, ID) 

has it all: an impressive historic 

river ford, a magnificent stretch 

of wagon ruts, a state-of-the-art 

history and education center, and 

public camping facilities. Look 

across the river to see trail ruts 

descending the bluff to the Snake 

River wagon ford at Three Island Crossing. Now re-enactors ford the 

river with covered wagons, horses, and oxen each year on the second 

Saturday in August; film footage of one of the events is shown in the 


' m^ r^ '^'m k 

^^Kao^^B^ta ttr ' ^ " 

^^ *— *~ 

Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


education center. The park is open year-round; entrance is $4/vehicle. 
The center is open mid-March through September, and its hours vary 
seasonally. Admission to the center is free with your paid camping fee 
or vehicle entrance fee. Call (208) 366-2394 for center, camping, and 
park information. 
Directions: Approaching Glenns Ferry on 1-84 westbound, 
take Exit 121 and turn left on 1st Avenue. Turn south (left) on 
Commercial Avenue, then turn right on Madison Avenue. Drive 
approximately 1 mile on Madison to the park entrance. 

A-29. Three Island Crossing 

Overlook and Trail Ruts (Glenns 

Ferry). The wagon ruts that 

descend the bluff on the south 

side of the river are managed by 

the State of Idaho and are open to 

the public. Directions and a map 

are available at the park's history 

and education center. Parts of the 

route over to the ruts are unpaved but suitable for most vehicles in 

dry weather. 
Directions: Return to 1st Avenue and turn west (left). At the 
end of the road, set your trip odometer and turn left onto Old 
Highway 30. Drive 1.5 miles and make a left U-turn onto Sailor 
Creek Road, which curves to the right immediately after crossing 
the railroad tracks. After crossing the Snake River, the road splits: 
bear left onto Slick Ranch Road, which is paved. The road makes 
several turns as it works its way up the bluff. At 5.6 miles the road 
surface becomes gravel. At 5.7 miles, turn left across a green cattle 
guard and drive toward the river, watching for wagon swales on 
both sides of the road. Park at the designated area and walk the 
gravel path to the overlook and interpretive wayside exhibits. 
From the rim, look for wagon ruts descending the terrace, faint 
swales in the farm fields below, and trail crossing the island. 

Emigrants who did not wish to chance the crossing below the 
overlook could continue west along the south side of the Snake River. 

Today's traveler faces a decision at Three Island Crossing, too: 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

To follow the main route of the Oregon Trail via 1-84, return to 

1st Avenue at Glenns Ferry, follow the business loop to 1-84, and go 

west toward Boise. Look for the ruts of the South Alternate of the 

Oregon Trail along the south side of the Snake River a few miles west 

of Glenns Ferry as 1-84 comes near the Snake River. Continue with 

entry A- 30 below. 


To follow the South Alternate of the Oregon Trail via state and 

local roads, skip to Auto Tour Segment B on page 78. Auto Tour 

Segment B route rejoins the main Oregon Trail tour route at Parma, 


A-30. Bonneville HHHHHHHj^^^^^^^H 

Boise, ID) is a Bureau of Land ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 

Management trail site with an _ I I 

interpretive pavilion and multiple ^^^^^]Mtt^^^m^^^^^^___^^ 
trail ruts descending from the bluff ^^^H^i^t^Ki^^^HK^r!^ 
to the Boise River. Information pH^^^^^^^HHHHVi 

on the history of the Boise area I^^^^^B^^^ 

and the Oregon Trail is provided ■HBmhB 
by several interpretive signs at the 

pavilion. Part of the access road is unpaved, but it is usually suitable 
for passenger sedans when dry. Free. 
Directions: Signs to the "Bonneville Interpretive Site" help guide 
the way. From 1-84, take Exit 64 to Black's Creek Road. Set your 
trip odometer and turn left onto Black's Creek Road. At 2.6 miles 
from the initial turn there is a BLM sign marking the road to the 
interpretive site at Bonneville Point. The Oregon Trail crosses 
Black's Creek Road a short distance farther east, with ruts and 
markers visible on both sides of the road. Where the road splits, 
bear left onto Upper Black's Creek Road and follow it up the hill. 
Watch for more trail markers and wagon swales on the right as you 
reach the ridge top. Park at the interpretive pavilion about 4 miles 
from the interstate and explore the trail. 

A-31. Oregon Trail Historic Reserve (Boise) includes a pedestrian 
trail that follows original trail ruts along the rim of scenic Boise 
Valley. Interpretive signs tell the trail story. Down the trail to the 
right of the parking area is a road cut in the 1860s through the basalt 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


rim to allow eastbound traffic to 

ascend the bluff from the Boise 

River. This cut, known as the 

"Kelton Ramp," was considered 

an engineering marvel in its day. 

Emigrant inscriptions are visible 

on the basalt rimrock face about 

halfway down the ramp. The 

Oregon Trail, however, descended 

to the river about a half-mile to the east at a very steep, rocky location. 

Follow the pedestrian trail to the left to see additional exhibits and 

a monument with an Old Oregon Trail medallion designed by artist 

Avard Fairbanks, who created many of the sculptures exhibited along 

the Oregon, Pony Express, and Mormon Pioneer National Historic 

Trails. This historic reserve is a particularly good place for children to 

run and explore the trail, and the view is impressive. This site also has 

a public restroom. 
Directions: From Bonneville Point, return to westbound 1-84. 
Take Exit 57 southeast of Boise and turn east (right) onto Gowen 
Road/ID-21. Drive 2.3 miles and turn left onto East Lake Forest 
Drive. Continue around the curve for 0.2 mile to the park 
entrance and park where permitted. Follow the gravel path along 
the greenway and look for wagon ruts. A short distance down 
the trail to the right is the remnant of the old Kelton Stage Road. 
Return to 1-84 westbound and continue into Boise. 

A-32. Idaho State Historical 

Museum (610 N.Julia Davis Drive, 

Boise) offers exhibits on trail and fur^ 

trade history, including the artifacts 

recovered from the Astorian accident 

at Caldron Linn. Lots to see here. I 

Open May-Sep, Tues.-Sat. 9 a.m.-5 

p.m., and Sun. 1-5 p.m.; and Oct.- 

April, Tues.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and 

Sat. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Sundays, Mondays, and holidays. Modest 

admission charged. 
Directions: Take Exit 53 at Boise and turn north (right) onto 
Vista Avenue. Continue into the city. Cross Overland Road and 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

Kootenai Street. Ahead, Vista makes an S curve and becomes 
Capitol Boulevard. Cross the Boise River and take the first right 
into Julia Davis Park. The museum is ahead on the left. 

To continue following the trail to Oregon, turn right out of Julia 
Davis Park onto Capitol Boulevard. Drive 4 blocks to Front Street 
and turn left. Go 6 blocks and continue on Front Street as it jogs 
slightly to the right across 13th Street. Drive 2 more blocks to 15th 
Street. Turn right, drive 1 block to Grove Street, and turn left. Follow 
Grove as it swings north and crosses Fairview Avenue. Merge left 
onto Main Street. Follow Main for about .9 mile and, shortly after 
crossing to the south side of the Boise River, bear right onto Chinden 
Boulevard/U.S.-20/26. Continue west toward Caldwell; see entry 
A-3 3 for further directions. 

A-33. Ward Massacre Site (near 

Caldw^ell, ID). Indians attacked 

the 20-member Ward Party, which 

v^as bound for Oregon, in August 

1854. Only tw^o boys survived the 

ordeal. This site today consists 

of a small, grassy park with a 

monument over the victims' 

grave, a state historical sign, and 

a concrete Oregon Trail marker. The park is managed by the Canyon 

County Parks and Recreation. 
Directions: About 19 miles after entering Chinden Boulevard, 
turn north (right) on Middleton Road, then east (right) on 
Lincoln Road, the next road to the right. The county park is on 
the north side of the road. 





"* — \ 


A-34. Fort Boise Replica Site 
(Old Fort Boise Park, Parma, ID) 

is a reproduction of the original 
1834 Hudson's Bay Company 
trading post. The volunteer- 
operated replica/museum is open 
to the public but has limited hours. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


Open June-Aug., Fri.-Sun. 1 p.m -3 p.m. Donations accepted. 
Directions: From the Ward Massacre Site, turn north (right) on 
Middleton Road and drive to Middleton. Turn west (left)) on 
ID-44/ Star Boulevard. Cross the freeway and at the end of the 
highway turn south (left) onto Farmway Road (about 7 miles from 
the Ward site). Turn right onto U.S.-20/26/95 and continue to 
Parma. The Fort Boise replica is on the right as you enter town. 

A-35. The Old Fort Boise 

Trading Post (Parma) stood 

somewhere on this stretch of the 

Snake River, about 5 miles from 

its replica in Parma. Flooding has 

washed away any traces of the 

fort, which is commemorated by a 

rustic concrete monument in the 

Fort Boise Wildlife Management 

Area. The state wildlife area is open Aprill-Sept. 30, 5 a.m.-lO p.m., 

and Oct. 1-March 31, 6 a.m.-8 p.m. 
Directions: Go north through Parma on U.S. -95. Cross Klahr 
Road and continue to Old Fort Boise Road. Turn west (left) 
on Old Fort Boise and drive west to the Fort Boise Wildlife 
Management Area. Bear right at the river onto a gravel road and 
continue past two parking areas. Look for the monument on the 
left, in thick vegetation near the Snake River. 

To continue into Oregon along the Auto Tour Route, take Old Fort 
Boise Road back to U.S. -9 5. Turn south (right) on U.S. 95 and return 
to Parma. In Parma, turn right on Roswell Boulevard and follow it 
south. The road becomes Wamstad Road. Turn west (right) on ID- 18 
and go through Roswell. Follow ID- 18 /Roswell Road along a series 
of jogs and into Oregon, where the road makes a sharp turn south 
at the river. Stay on Roswell Road as it turns west and crosses the 
Snake River. Turn right on OR-201 and continue to Adrian, Oregon. 
The Auto Tour Route for the Oregon Trail through Oregon and 
Washington begins here. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


Emigrants who were unable to cross at Three Island Crossing continued 
down the south side of the Snake River on the South Alternate of the 
Oregon Trail. The South Alternate begins at Glenns Ferry, follows the 
river northwestward, and enters present-day Oregon about three miles 
beyond Homedale, Idaho. 

B-1. Bruneau Sand Dune (27609 

Sand Dunes Road, northeast of 

Bruneau, ID), about 2 miles north 

of the trail, was a landmark along 

the South Alternate route. It is an 

interesting natural feature — the 

tallest free-standing sand dune in 

the United States. View the dune 

from the road or visit Bruneau 

Dunes State Park for a closer look. Open year-round, daily, 9 a.m.-5 

p.m. Entrance $4/vehicle. 
Directions: At Glenns Ferry, go west on First Avenue/Business 
Loop 84 and continue out of town. The road merges onto 
Frontage Road/Old Highway 30, which closely parallels 1-84. Look 
for white posts marking the South Alternate of the Oregon Trail on 
the south side of the Snake River a few miles west of Glenns Ferry. 
In about 4.5 miles, the road ends at an intersection. Turn left onto 
the 1-84 business loop and enter the town of Hammett. Turn east 
(left) onto ID -78, then take the next right where the highway jogs 
south. At the edge of town, ID-78 turns west. Continue about 14 
miles, following signs to the dunes. The park is on the south side 
of the road. 

B-2. The Utter Disaster Site 
(near Castle Butte, southeast 
of Murphy, ID) is where Indians 
attacked a wagon train of 44 
people led by Elijah Utter in 
September 1860. Indian fighters 
encircled the train and struck 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


repeatedly over nearly two days, killing 11 emigrants. The sufferings 
of the survivors as they struggled west along the Snake River rivaled 
those of the better-known Donner Party. This site must be viewed 
from the road, as land here is privately owned. For additional sites 
related to the Utter Disaster, see the Auto Tour Route Interpretive 
Guide Across Oregon and Washington. 
Directions: Continue west on ID-78. At the junction just west 
of Bruneau Dunes State Park, turn left onto ID-51/78. West of 
Bruneau the road splits. Stay right on ID-78 as it turns northwest; 
watch for white trail markers beginning around milepost 70. 
Continue through Grand View on ID -78 /Mud Flat Road for 
about 10 miles. Over this distance, the road curves west, then 
northwest, and west again. Cross Castle Creek and slow to 
watch for Wees Road just ahead and on the north (right) side 
of the road. A state historical sign about the Utter Disaster is 
located near this intersection. Set your vehicle's trip odometer 
and continue north up Wees Road, a maintained gravel road. In 
about 2.5 miles, look for the trail landmark of Castle Butte off 
to the west. Pass Nettleton Road and continue north. At about 
3.7 miles, look for a fenced pullout (sometimes partly hidden 
by vegetation) on the left, where a historical sign provides more 
information about the attack. The emigrants first were attacked 
at Henderson Flat, a short distance east of the pullout, and then 
were struck again just west of the pullout. 

A rest stop with toilets is located along ID-78 at the Bureau of Land 
Management's Fossil Creek Trailhead, about 8 miles west of the 
Wees Road turnoff. 

B-3. Owyhee County Historical 

Museum ( 1 7085 Basey Street, .^ir'''^^'''''"''----,_r^ ' 

Murphy, ID) offers some pioneer . '^' ^^.-.—m^. i ^^i^Xv^'"^^^ 
exhibits and a good selection of ^^^HiHHHlilH^^--i;^^ 
books and trail guides. Ask for the ^^HJ^^^HB^HBShH 
Idaho Oregon-California Trails ^^■j^H"^^^^^"^^53H|^ 

Association brochure on the Utter ^^K^^^BS/jf 

Disaster and a related attack that HHI^IHHr. . Jl 

occurred near Huntington, Oregon. Open Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 
Closed between Christmas and New Year's Day. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 

Directions: From the Utter site, return to ID-78 and continue 
west to Murphiy. On entering town, watch for the Utter 
monument located in front of the Owyhee County Courthouse. 
Turn southwest (left) on Hailey Street, then southeast (left) at the 
next intersection, onto Basey Street. The museum is on the right. 

B-4. Givens Hot Springs 

(Givens Hot Springs, ID) were 

a minor landmark along the 

South Alternate of the Oregon 

Trail. Some emigrants reported 

that the water was hot enough 

to cook eggs. Today it is part of a 

commercially operated hot-spring 

pool, campground, and park 

complex. A state historical sign about the springs is located along the 


Directions: From Murphy, continue west on ID-78 for 18 miles. 

The historical marker is on the left. 

ff .-■• 





■"' "" 

Continue west on ID-78 and watch for white trail markers on the 
right about 5.5 miles from Givens Hot Springs. Where ID-78 ends at 
Marsing, you have two choices: 

To return to the main route of the Oregon trail and conclude your 
tour at Fort Boise, turn west (left) on ID-55 and continue about a 
mile to the intersection of ID-55 with U.S.-95. Go straight (west) 
on U.S. 95 and drive to Parma. Turn southwest (right) on U.S.-20/26 
to the Fort Boise Replica site. Continue with entry A-34 above and 
conclude your tour at the site of Old Fort Boise Trading Post. 

To stay on the route of the South Alternate, turn west (left) on Main 
Street/ID-55 and continue about 9 miles to Homedale. Turn left onto 
Main Street, at the south edge of town. Drive 0.7 mile and turn west 
(left) on Idaho Avenue/ID-19. Continue to the Oregon state line, 
where ID-19 becomes OR-201. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


The auto tour of the South Alternate route to its junction with the 
main Oregon Trail at Nyssa, Oregon, continues in the Auto Tour 
Route Interpretive Guide Across Oregon and Washington. 

This ends the Auto Tour Route of the Oregon and California 
National Historic Trails across Idaho. 


Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guide 


Idaho Tourism 



Oregon-California Trails 
Association (OCTA) 

National Park Service 

National Trails System Office 

324 South State Street, Suite 


Salt Lake City, UT 84111 

Email: ntsl_interpretation@nps. 

Oregon NHT 
California NHT 


Story Text: Lee Kreutzer, Cultural Resources Specialist, National 
Trails System Office 

Layout/Design, Photography, Editing & Graphics: Chuck 
Milliken, Interpretive Specialist, National Trails System Office. 

Special Thanks: to Jerry Eichhorst of the Idaho Chapter of OCTA. 

Graphic Images: All photo images used throughout this document 
are National Park Service except for the following: cover art & 
pages 8, & 15, - paintings by William Henry Jackson, courtesy of 
Scotts Bluff NM; pages inside front cover, 2, 5, 8, 14, 19, 20, 31, 35, 
36, 37, 39, & 41 - The Library of Congress; pages 11 & 12 - Wisconsin 
Historical Society; pages 4 & 17, Idaho State University Department 
of Geology; page 7, Beniecke Rare Book & Manuscript Collection, 
Yale University; page 26, Idaho Chapter of OCTA; page 37, John 
Eldredge (OCTA); page 13, Idaho Photo; page 28, Utah State 
University Special Collections; page 32, Idaho State Parks; page 49, 
Tony Varilone (Caribou Historical Society). 


i. ,;*t.i/^-aHrW 



i fiju. 























National Historic Trails 

Auto Tour Route Map 












— ^ 









\34/ Caribou 

I Soda 




anriDck \347 





m (91) 



r / f89 

^Franklin ^-r^ Bear 




Auto Tour Route Interpretive 
Feature - segment A 

Auto Tour Route Interpretive 
Feature - segment B 

Oregon Trail - Main Route 

Oregon Trail - North Alt. 

Oregon Trail - South Alt. 

Goodale Cutoff Trail 

Bidwell-Bartleson Trail 

California Trail - Primary Route 

Hudspeth Cutoff Trail 

Salt Lake Cutoff Trail 

Interstate FHighway 

U.S. Highway 

Idaho State Road 

UTAH ^'' 


pppQCiTOPiY |T:im 

JAN 7 2009 





National Trails System 

National Park Service 

U.S. Department of the Interior